Tuesday, September 22, 2009

John 3:16 - Have Eternal Life

Can you imagine a toddler that is jaded? A child, on the cusp of real life, so much potential, so much ability, so many reasons they have to be optimistic, and somehow they get such a perspective on life that they realize everything is meaningless. They give up before they even try. Can you imagine this child growing older, that sees no point, and they take to filling their life with all the worldly pleasures they can get their hands on to make themselves feel better about a pointless life; alcohol, drugs, sex, possesions, etc. We would wonder how they could not see all the potential for a good life they were throwing away? Afterall, we know that in life, if you want a good future you should start building it at a young age, when it's easier, we have more ability, potential and time on our side.
We have the opportunity to be in that position again, to be born again. But do we really believe our life is new again, with renewed potential? Does our new life give us hope for what we are capable of, or do we still act like our life is meaningless, chasing unfulfilling, momentary pleasures? Are we using the life we have now to build our future, our eternal future?
Matthew 6:19-20 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth....But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven."
If you are a "toddler", not excited about the eternal life you have in front of you, maybe it's because you have a lack of excitement for Heaven. Do you need a new perspective on Heaven?

John 3:16 - Not Perish

I think Max Lucado said it best in his 'Numbers of Hope" series:
God gave us earth as the place that could either be the closest we'll get to Heaven, or the closest we'll get to Hell.
Which one is our choice.
He has tried to put every 'BEWARE' sign He can over the gates of hell, He even said, over my dead body.
But in the end, some people still choose to walk right over His gift and perish.

Monday, September 21, 2009

John 3:16 - In Him

So far this verse has been so inclusive, God gave a gift to the world, and whoever accepts it has eternal life. The only stipulation is accepting it. But there is only one way to accept it, believing in Him. So many people want to believe there can't be just one way, every destination has more than one way to get there, Heaven is no different.

If you wanted to fly to the moon, there would only be one way, right? If someone tried to go to the moon by flying via Cathay Pacific Airways to Australia, would that make sense? "Is that where the space shuttle launches from?" you ask. "No, but Cathay Pacific Airways won airline of the year, a great journey to a great destination." Or what if they suggest flying to Amsterdam via Singapore Airlines, because it was voted best for in flight entertainment, non-stop fun! "But that doesn't go to the moon!" you protest. What if they are convinced the way to go is by flying Malaysia Airlines to Seoul Korea, after all they have the best staff, they will know what they are doing, be very knowledgeable, and have excellent customer services. After verifying with them that no shuttle launches from those places, you would look at them like they have lost their marbles and ask them how that gets them to the moon! Can you imagine then that they get offended and spit out angrily, "All flights get you to the moon!" But just because they say it doesn't make it true.

Be sure if you want to get to Heaven that you have done your research, that you are sure you are on the right flight, not just a good flight.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

John 3:16 - Whoever Believes

be⋅lief [bi-leef]
confidence; faith; trust

Whoever trusts.

Max Lucado tells a story in his "Numbers of Hope" series about learning to trust.
Mr. Lucado, even though he's no spring chicken, decided to go rock climbing. He found himself getting instructions from a petite, college aged young lady, who described for him how to descend using his feet to bounce off the rock wall a little at a time to repel down to the safety of the ground. When he asked her how he prevented himself from crashing as he plummeted to the ground, she replied with a sweet smile, "You don't....I do."

This he could not seem to comprehend, so he asked again. "There must be something I do?!"
"All you can do is trust me."
Trust. Trust this girl, have his size and age, to hold him up and keep him safe, guiding him with just a rope. Not an easy choice, but it was either that or go home. And so he did, he took that LEAP of FAITH.

Sometimes it seems like in impossible task, trusting an intangible God with very tangible problems. But intangible is not the same as imperceptible. He is not hidden or beyond being perceived by the senses. We can feel Him, we can hear Him, we can see His artistic handiwork, we can taste the fruits of His labor, we smell His roses. Since He's given us enough evidence to know He is real, and He loves us, we just have to trust that and believe.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

John 3:16 - His One and Only Son

If you think it takes being a parent to understand God's sacrifice, here's another analogy for you.
You and your spouse are sitting in your car parked on a side street, just having come back from somewhere, settling in for the drive home. All of a sudden a stranger pulls your door open, grabs your arm and pulls you from the car, pointing a gun to your head! Your spouse jumps out of their door, quickly offering every possession you both have on you, cash, cards, jewellry, even the car. That is not what the perp is looking for apparently, and starts to drag you off without a word. Your spouse follows and drops down to their knees, arms raised and begs for your life, offering theirs instead. The love your spouse has for you just can't let you die without doing whatever they can to stop it, even taking your place. Even looking into the barrel of the gun, your spouse does not faulter, and sure enough the replacement is accepted with the blast of gun powder against steel. Your spouse crumples before you and the stranger runs off, leaving you to crumple to the ground as well. You can't believe the gruesome yet loving display that just devestated you in a matter of seconds, and your life has forever changed. Your old life completely destroyed and yet a second chance at a new life. How could you not be transformed by what you have witnessed?
The groom did exactly that for his bride. A father may have offered His child, but the child also willingly made the sacrifice. If you haven't watched it yet, or find yourself lacking appreciation for your second life, I encourage you to watch The Passion of the Christ.

Friday, September 18, 2009

John 3:16 - He Gave

Have you ever given a gift that wasn't well received, or refused out right?
Recently a friend of mine was telling me about a gift she'd given her sister-in-law, she doesn't know her very well but she knows she's a very dedicated Church-goer so she bought her a pretty piece of decor with a Bible verse on it. Her SIL barely gave it a look, didn't say thank you, didn't really acknowlege it at all other than opening it. I can't imagine someone being so displeased with a gift that they wouldn't express any gratitude whatsoever. After all, it may not be your taste or style but someone took to the time to think of you, attempted to get something that would be appreciated, can't you acknowlege that they tried?
I can't hardly fathom that, but some people will even outright refuse gifts, or exchange gifts, if it is not to their liking! Now, excluding gifts that come with gift receipts ;), I have a hard time understanding how people can disregard and disrespect the thoughts, feelings, emotions, intentions of the giver so selfishly!
Yet, it doesn't seem to matter how wonderful the gift is, you will see the same with the greatest gift ever given. Some people act like they have no obligatation to be grateful, they are entitled to salvation, it doesn't matter how they got it only that they have what they deserve. Some people pretend to accept the gift but exchange it for their own version of salvation. Some people refuse to acknowledge it and therefore refuse to accept it.
He gave, but will we respond with grateful acceptance?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

John 3:16 - the World...Whoever

As I mentioned in my blog entry "A Parental Prediciment", if it was me who had to determine who could be saved with my child's blood, I would be highly selective. Being the detail-oriented person I am, I would have a color-coded list in Excel with formulas to calculate worthiness and create columns of 'definites', 'semi-definites', 'maybes', 'probably nots' and 'most definately nots'.
Max Lucado, author and teaching minister, whose series "The Numbers of Hope" inspired my breakdown of John 3:16, puts it this way; John 3:16 has a 'whoever' policy. There is no list, there is no 'in crowd', there is no discrimination between race, gender, age, experience, skill, etc. God plainly says He loves the world. The whole world. Whoever decides to believe and accept it, the only stipulation is on our end to receive, He is willing to give to anyone who accepts the gift.

Have you ever experience ANY place in life that has a 'whoever' policy? Where you, Donald Trump, Lady Gaga, and the street person collecting change at Osborne and Broadway, can all walk in and none of you are judged by anyone for any reason? Judgement includes the positive and the negative, so none of you are accepted any more than the others either. There is only one place that kind of acceptance is available, in the presence of God.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

John 3:16 - Loved

Loved is a word easily thrown around these days, mostly because the English language only has on word for many different types of love. Many other languages have more than one word for love, Spanish has 15 words for love, Greek has 4. The Greek word agape was the actual word used in this verse, John 3:16.

According to Wikidictionary, the actual definition of agape is:
adj. [ah-gah-pey]
1. gaping, with wonder, expectation, or eager attention
2. open wide

Wikipedia says:
"The term agape is rarely used in ancient manuscripts, but was used by the early Christians to refer to the self-sacrificing love of God for humanity, which they were committed to reciprocating and practicing towards God and among one another. When 1 John 4:8 says "God is love," the Greek New Testament uses the word agape to describe God's love."

God's love is gaping wide open, it creates wonder! To me this means unrestricted and unconditional love, love that inspires awe and makes jaws drop....gaping wide open! What other kind of love could sacrifice their own life for the lives of people who don't even know it? What other kind of love could sacrifice the life of their child for the lives of people who don't even know it? God's love is different. If you can't believe in 'love' anymore these days, you aren't familiar with the definition of God's love.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

John 3:16 - For God so...

loved the world.
I think that might be where some people stop, that's where the buy in ends.
They might believe in God. They might believe in God the omnipotent creator, the intelligent designer of our universe. They might believe in God the omniscient overseer, who knows all and sees all. They might believe in God the ultimate - author/ poet, engineer, artist, biologist/ chemist/ physicist, philanthropist, doctor, etc. But do they believe in the God who loves them as an individual?
It's a little like working for a very large Corporation. Not many people get to know the President, the mastermind, the wizard behind the curtain. Someone with so much power, responsibility, so many things to juggle and keep afloat, how could they have time or inclination to care about the 'little people'? How blown away would you be if the President took the time to talk to you, to care about you? It would be unexpected, but impossible, of course not. I experienced that very situation this last July when our small office hosted the President of our Canadian company, the commander in chief for 2500+ employees. And not only did he talk to me, he thanked me for my assistance and recognized me in front of his whole board of directors.
If we can accept that personal interaction from our superiors, someone who was made in God's image, why is it so hard to believe God Himself is incapable of the same. Especially when He, THE Creator, created each one of us individually and personally. We weren't made in a baby factory where He just provided the materials for life and a blue print. He put thought into every facet of our being, taking into consideration where we would live, who we would interact with, how we would interact with His creation or things in the world not of His making, all for the purpose of drawing us near to Him.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Parental Predicament

It's been awhile since I've dared to ponder, dared to imagine, what it would be like to have a child, what it will be like to be a parent. The love I think I have now can't compare to the unfathomable love I'll experience when and if that day comes. If my heart leaps with joy at the smile of my niece, or jumps into my throat when my nephew chokes, how many thousands of times will those feelings be multiplied when it's my own child.
I know right now I would only be too grateful to be able to experience that parental love and drive to protect my child, so grateful to experience the normal worries and challenges that come with the territory of being called mom. Admittedly I probably don't see the world right now as a parent does. My perception of the economy, politics, health care, etc., is not seen through the filtered lens of responsibility for another helpless and innocent life.
Even though I want it just about more than anything, I can barely imagine what it must feel like as a parent watching the news about potential pandemic virus, H1N1. I can barely imagine what it would feel like if the baby I waited so long for might get exposed to something so scary. Or something worse. As our world ages, it is promised we will experience more pandemics, millions of people will die. My baby could be one of them.
What if tomorrow we heard about one such mystery illness? All over CNN we hear about it spreading rapidly across North America, then our whole continent, then the world. Would it make me regret bringing this much adored baby into the world? Would I trade the kind of heartache only motherhood could bring for the absence of that kind of love? I don't think I would. Even with the small glance into that kind of future we've had with H1N1, it's easy to see how the worry and the frustration would become almost all consuming, the world would be stricken with panic, normal life would seem to just about shut down as we all faced our own mortality, just the time I would need a love like that.
I would, as we all would, be praying for just one small ray of hope. And can you imagine the relief if that hope came true and a cure was found. A full cure, not just a vaccine, a cure that would eliminate any chance of further damage from this horrible, ravenous, disease. Whatever it took, the world would unite to make sure the cure became readily available to everyone, no matter the cost, financially, and likely even ethically. Normal regulatory, technical and manufacturing hurdles may be eliminated for the sake of the world. Millions of parents like me would make it so.
Imagine the only thing on our side is that the mysterious illness is slow, and so while death seems inevitable, at least the death toll is relatively low a few months down the road when a potential cure is found. They think they've found a way to use blood exposed to the disease but that for some reason doesn't get infected by it. They only managed to find one small sample of blood in all the blood banks that created this positive reaction in the disease, so immediately they begin asking people to be tested to find another, larger, blood source that could prove their theory they had found the cure. Time is still of the essence, so it is mandatory everyone is tested immediately, so that they have a higher chance of finding this blood sooner rather than later.
Imagine in every city, herded into every hospital and clinic, is every man, woman and child, including you. Including me and my precious baby. But we are all willing, for the sake of humanity we are willing. Yet, there we all are, standing around, scared, with our neighbors, wondering if this is the hope we've been praying for or if this will be the end of the world. And suddenly a name is called across the crowd. It's the name of my baby. I approach the one calling a name that sounded so sweet on any one's lips up until that moment. They take my approach as a sign of willingness and take my baby without a word. "Wait a minute. Hold on!" Five tense minutes later, out come the doctors and nurses, crying and hugging one another - some are even laughing. It's the first time I’ve seen anybody laugh in a few days, and an old doctor walks up to me and says, "Thank you! Your child's blood is the only sample in the whole world that has replicated the results of our test. It's clean, it is pure, and we can make the cure." As the word begins to spread all across that parking lot full of folks, people are screaming and praying and laughing and crying. But then the gray-haired doctor pulls me aside and says,
"May we see you for moment? We didn't realize that the donor would be a minor and we need ….. we need you to sign a consent form."
I begin to sign and then I see that the box for ordering the number of pints of blood to be taken is empty.
"H-how many pints?"
And that is when the old doctor's smile fades and he says,
"We had no idea it would be such a little child. We weren't prepared. We need it all!"
"You don't understand. We are talking about the world here. Please sign. We-we need it all!"
"But can't you give him a transfusion?"
"If we had clean blood we would. We don’t! This illness is out of control. Can you sign? Would you sign?"
"Can't we wait to see if anymore blood will surface?"
"At this point, 95% of the world has been tested, the likelyhood there is another source of blood that will work is too low, we have to act now."
My mind begins to fly to all the people in the world that don't deserve the blood of my innocent child, that my baby's life is worth so much more than theirs. I begin with "What if not everyone...."
But the doctor cuts me off, "Please ma'am, we don't have time to waste! We can't take a chance leaving anyone infected, or we'll be back in the same predicament in months."
My child has no future either way it would seem, and so in numb silence, I sign the documents. “I'm sorry, we've got to get started. People all over the world are dying." I'm allowed to stay long enough to say goodbye, which is probably for the best, because as they tear my flesh and blood from my arms, I already can't bare to look into the eyes that seem to scream, "why have you abandoned me, why now when I need you the most do you desert me?" And, as I turn away, part of me dies too.
I leave with the broken heart I knew I would one day experience, but I imagine I would have some peace knowing I had saved the world. Each person I pass on my way out, I search for a look of gratitude, but no one knows I am the mother who sacrificed her only child so they could live. Tomorrow, when all the newscasts and newspapers victoriously announce the survival of the human race, that's when appreciation for my sacrifice would start pouring in. And it does. But then, by the next week, when they have a ceremony to honor my child, not nearly as many people show up as I would have expected. I expected them ALL! I look across the sea of faces there for a chance to say thank you, gaining some comfort from them, until I see some who slip out the back before it's over, apparently there just for show. And I see some people half way through the 2 hour service who have fallen asleep, their new lease on life already past gratitude and on it's way to being abused again. I imagine I would want to jump up and say, "MY CHILD DIED FOR YOU! DON'T YOU CARE?"

This video reminded me of this above story, I had read long before I was trying to become a parent. I saw this video, and the series on John 3:16, done by Max Lucado, at Church today, and boy did the two connect and hit home. John 3:16, 'the prescribed treatment to our ailment.' What word(s) in the verse stands out to you? To me, it was 'gave His one and only son'.
John 3:16 is probably the first Bible verse most of us ever learned, and still remember, yet probably just as taken for granted. Today, when I heard this verse, it was like I heard God whisper, "My Son died for you. Do you care?"
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...