Almost Home (but not yet home)

After nearly five months of looking on-line at hundreds of houses, visiting in person over 30 different domiciles, and putting an offer on two places (the first one had a little mold problem), tomorrow (finally oh so finally) we will gain possession of our home. 

In the last five months, we have sold our home in Kansas; moved across the country leaving behind a great church, many friends and our son; put most of our earthly possessions in a storage facility; lived for over four months in a borrowed condo of a former letter earner in two sports at Michigan State University and a week in the basement of another MSU fan (Sparties are good people, but I’m ready to wake up and holler, “This is Wolverine Country!”); endured with the rest of the brave and hardiest Michiganders the worst (or next to worst) winter on record; officiated at my own mother’s funeral and also said “Rest in Peace” to our dog;   involved in a fender bender (not my fault) and possibly hit a stop sign (my fault); dealt with health issues of Karla’s folks and released, Chronic Pain, my first book on my own health issues; all the while I have tried to learn the ropes, the faces and the rhythms of a brand new church.

I think it is safe to say we are ready to be settled in our own home.  In fact, I can’t wait. I’m anxious, nervous, expectant, and hope-filled.  Every morning I’ve been counting down the days (even hours) until we can call 6415 Wailea Court “home.” 

I think in some ways that’s how the Apostle Paul felt about heaven.  He couldn’t wait. Anxious. Nervous. Expectant. Hope-filled—Paul wrote: For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling   (2 Corinthians 5:1-2).   

Sometimes I groan for that too. The last words of the Bible express my heart on many days, “Come, Lord Jesus come!” (Revelation 22:20) 

I long for Jesus’ return. 

I long for the day when all things will be made new.

I get so tired of the current cultural wars that exist in and outside of the church.  I am increasingly finding myself on the opposite side of popular opinion. I find myself more and more labeled a hater when, in fact, I want to known as simply a follow the One who called us to love our neighbor.  I’ve grown weary of being characterized as intolerant (at best) and ignorant (at worst) because I refuse to rationalize what I believe are godly biblical standards. I want to be fighting for the things I am “for” not known for what I am “against.” I want to be an authentically hope-filled person who exemplifies what theologian Jurgen Moltman described:  “Genuine hope is not blind optimism. It is hope with open eyes, which sees the suffering and yet believes in the future.”  As I see it– our hope-filled future is in the one and only God who can make all things new. 

And so like I’ve been counting the days to get in my home, I’m counting the days for Jesus to re-create us and do a beautiful work through us.  I’m anxious, nervous, expectant and hope-filled for that day!  I can’t wait to see His Kingdom come in Flint as it is in Heaven. 

Come Lord Jesus, come!

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NO NAME THURSDAY

Fat Tuesday was two days ago.  It is the day before the season of Lent begins.  In Michigan on Fat Tuesday we eat Pazcki (a polish jelly donut—twice the fat, twice the calories, and twice the yumminess of a regular donut).  In New Orleans Fat Tuesday is the end of Marti Gras and the end of the hedonistic revelry that has consumed that city for weeks.  Wherever you live, Fat Tuesday is supposed to be the end of our self-focused outlook on life (read: FAT chance).

Ash Wednesday was yesterday and is the first day in the season of Lent.  Many people attend services where the imposition of ashes is to remind the worshippers of the words from Genesis 3:19:  “For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.” It’s the beginning of the time of preparation for the journey to the cross and eventually to Easter morning celebrations.  Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of a Christ-focused outlook.

There is no special adjective for today—the Thursday after Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday.  So I will offer these choice describers for this day:

WASH YOUR FOREHEAD THURSDAY

If you attended a service where Ashes were imposed– it’s a good day to wipe clean your forehead or tomorrow may be known as ZIT FILLED FRIDAY.  But don’t wipe clean the memories of commitments and sacrifices you have promised to keep for the next 40 days.

FIND-A-BOOK-TO-READ-THROUGH-LENT THURSDAY

This is not a shameless plug for the new, hot off the presses must-read book Chronic Pain by a certain handsome author (OK that was a shameless plug.  I apologize).  Rather choose a book that will help you keep your focus on what it means to be a follower of Jesus.  Recent books like Francis Chan’s Crazy Love or the Nazarene Publishing House’s Ashes to Fire or an oldie but still a goodie, Dietrich Bonheoffer’s The Cost of Discipleship are all good reads for the Season of Lent.

DON’T-FORGET-YOUR-COMMITMENT THURSDAY

Many people have decided to fast something during the season of Lent to help remind them of the sacrifice that Jesus made on their behalf.  Chocolate, coffee, Facebook and soda pop seem to be the favorite choices of most folks I know.  All those are fine choices, if every day they remind you of what Jesus did on the cross for you and if you didn’t choose to fast them because you “needed to lose a little weight anyway.”  Remember why you are fasting whatever it is you are fasting.

HELP-A-NEIGHBOR THURSDAY

Do you remember God’s words to the people during the prophet Amos’ day who were into showy worship and all the pomp and circumstance of offering sacrifices to God while at the same time they were oppressing the poor?

So God bluntly told them:

“I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
your assemblies are a stench to me. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harpBut let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream. (Amos 5:21-24)

The Warning:  Don’t just fast something during Lent so you can tell your friends what a wonderful Christian you are because you gave up chocolate for seven weeks—make a difference by letting justice and righteousness rule your day. Look around and notice the hurting and the troubled and decide to help a neighbor.  I seriously doubt that one homeless person is going to care if you decided to stop paying four bucks for a Starbucks coffee for the next 40 days, but they might be blessed if you used your that same four bucks to help end their suffering.

These are just a few suggestions for today.  Bottom line—let today (and every day) be known as LIVING-FOR-JESUS THURSDAY.