Saturday, June 27, 2009

Personal vs. Private

A personal faith in Christ? Priceless.

A private faith in Christ? Worthless.

And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)

So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.--
Jesus, Matthew 10:32-33 (ESV)

Some Fountain Pen Appreciation

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Special Place for Rest

For years when I was younger, I heard various folks talk of having their “special place” to go on vacation. They spoke about how relaxing and rejuvenating it was to make their annual trek to their favorite spot of respite. I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to their comments, just enough to wonder if such places really were that enjoyable and re-creative. On the other hand, I wasn’t very good at resting anyway, and when your children are young and you are working and pursuing further education, you don’t feel like you can afford financially or in time to go away to some haven of rest long enough to make the trip worthwhile anyway. Honestly though, if I’d planned better and had some priorities rearranged, I could’ve probably done a better job at it than I did. Hindsight is 20/20, so they say.

But I’m a bit older now, not old, just older enough to notice fatigue more than I did in my twenties and thirties. I’ve also learned to enjoy and look forward to, even covet, a day of rest each week. And, when I can take an additional day or part of a day to take care of non-ministry “work” around the home place (the stuff many folk do on Saturdays before resting on Sundays), I consider that a blessing as well. Plus, Deloris and I have learned to see the value of occasionally getting out of town together for two to three days to rest, enjoy one another’s company and a change of scenery.

This brings me back to the idea of having a “special” get-away place. Deloris and I now have one. We first experienced the peacefulness of it about a year ago and we’ve been back twice since then, the latest being in early June. It’s far enough away to say we went somewhere but close enough to get back home quickly if we really need to do so. It’s affordable, the food is great, the atmosphere is relaxing and has an historical feel, and once we’re there, we don’t have to get off of the property unless we just really want to do so. The lodging is comfortable, the common places where folks gather to read or visit or play games, or even dose off are uncommon, and there is plenty of beautiful scenery to go out and experience if we desire. Where is this place? Spring Mill Inn located in the middle of Spring Mill State Park near Mitchell, Indiana. It’s hard for me to explain how restful it is, but as soon as we walk into the inn’s large main lobby, furnished in the arts & crafts or mission style tradition, we’re relaxed. I think clearly there. It’s easy for me to focus on my devotional time and to write in my journal. Reading is such a pleasure there for both Deloris and me. And, we enjoy talking and going on walks on the surrounding trails. God sure has blessed us during our times at that tranquil place.

As much as Deloris and I enjoy going there, it doesn’t even compare with what heaven will be like. The rest and activities that God has in store for those who have accepted by faith His wonderful gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ and His sacrificial work on the cross is difficult to comprehend. Even the inspired authors of various books in the New Testament seemed to have trouble trying to describe in words the beauty and wonderfulness of heaven.
We mustn’t forget that we’re strangers here. Though we’re saved by grace and not any goodness on own account, God is God and we are not. An obedient response to His grace is essential and our salvation didn’t come cheaply. The apostle Peter reminds us,

“And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time as “foreigners in the land.” For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God” (1 Peter 1:17-19, NLT).

But there is a greater rest coming, one that begins when one is born again, an inner rest that is experienced as we respond to His Word each day. This rest will grow exponentially when Christ returns and we enter the gates of heaven to that place prepared for the faithful: “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest…” (Hebrews 4:9-11, NIV).

You know, when, by God’s grace through Jesus Christ, I get to heaven, Spring Mill Inn won’t look all that great. But in the meantime, like Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes, God willing, I hope to continue to enjoy that special place in the woods in southern Indiana. And, I hope that if you haven’t already, you find a nice place to relax when needed as well.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Choosing Others to Manage Our Affairs

"It really is difficult to imagine how people who have entirely given up managing their affairs could make a wise choice of those who are to do that for them. One should never expect a liberal, energetic, and wise government to originate in the votes of a people of servants." --Alexis de Tocqueville in Democracy in America, 1840