Hurricane Sandy, Power, and God

Hurricane Sandy has come and gone, leaving behind her trail of devastation and destruction. The New York and New Jersey shores have seen the worst in decades. Homes destroyed. Numerous deaths reported. Cars lost. Gas supplies declined. And the electric power, that which we have grown so fond of and depended on, failed. In many ways, people were powerless literally, and they felt powerless figuratively.

As one of the preparations for Hurricane Sandy, electrical line workers were flown in 

Imageand drove in from distances to help cities, townships, and power so that our necessities of heat, food, and water, and our conveniences of TV, lights, and web access may be returned to us. These line workers literally have spent 14-20 hour days working hard to bring our lives back to “normal.” neighborhoods restore 

In some manners, Jesus was like that line worker. Sin had disconnected us from the Father. We were powerless and in need, but we could not connect to the Power ourselves. Sure, we set up generators, temporary solutions that needed to be constantly replenished with gas to work, but this temporary solution was just that…temporary. We needed a real fix to the problem. We needed to be reconnected to our Power, to our heavenly Father. So Jesus sacrificed His life, so that through Him, we might be connected to the Father forever. And yes, even He was ridiculed and persecuted for doing what He came to do, even when it was in the people’s (our) best interest.
Believers have been chosen to bring attention to this. We are called to help people put aside their temporary solutions from life’s struggles and to ask Jesus the Line Worker to connect them to God.  At times, we may even hear the complaints, ridicule, and even receive persecution for their perceived thoughts of us. As unpleasant as that is, that is what we are chosen to do.  This connection with God, through the sacrificial work of the Son, will satisfy our deepest and greatest needs.
If you are not connected to the Father, ask Jesus to forgive you from your sin (that which disconnected you from Him), believe that Jesus connects you to the Father through His death on the cross and resurrection, and now live with the Power of the Lord. The power to change, the power to withstand temptation, the power to live life to the fullest, and the eternal connection to Him are only a decision away. How easy it is to call your electrical supplier to let them know you need them. Now, will you call upon the Lord and tell Him that you need Him? 

Moving Heaven

Have you ever watched a movie (or Hallmark commercial) that simply moved you?  There is something about the theme, or words spoken or action shared, that literally moved your emotion from one state to another.  Ever since my body chemistry changed from having children :), I’ve found myself emotionally moved by actions of love towards others, or forgiveness granted, of the loss of a loved one, and from a father expressing pride in his son.   These things often provoke unmanly watering from my eyes and I find myself in need of being rescued from Saint Kleenex, who is there for me when my nose runneth over.

I can’t help but recognize that in the same way, God our Heavenly Father is moved by what He sees in our lives, too.  When we show love to others, we move Him.  When we humble ourselves to seek forgiveness (Lk 15:7), we move Him.  When we lose loved ones, He is deeply moved by our grief (Jn 11:35).  When we reflect His Son, the Father is moved and His pride comes out as He utters the words, “Well done, good & faithful servant” (Lk 19:17).  He is moved by us and by our actions.  He is moved by our circumstances.  This is worth contemplating as we often focus on our own selves and lives and don’t often see how our actions move heaven.

In Luke 15:7, Jesus says “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”    Want to move heaven?  If you’re involved in sin… repent.  Share with others the Good news of salvation through Christ alone.  Let’s move heaven today!

Gameshows and Faith: Minute to Win It

There isn’t a whole lot on TV that you can watch as a family (especially with elementary age kids).  Most programs are either too childish for the adults, or too adult for the children (although, I must admit, Word Girl is pretty awesome).  So what can a family watch together that has entertainment, fun, and just tugs on the emotions?  Game shows!  This past summer my family enjoyed sitting and watching two gameshows in particular: Minute To Win It & WipeOut.   Of the two that we watched, Minute To Win It was our favorite. 

The object of Minute To Win It is for the contestants to win money by completing assigned tasks…and of course, they have a minute to win it (the task and the money).  If they complete the assigned task, they move up to the next level (the next task) and start the process over again, but with more money at stake…all the way to a million dollars.  Throughout their quest for a million, they are allowed to mess up three times and like baseball, at the third strike, their out.

So what does Minute To Win It have to do with faith?  Well, nothing really. It’s just fun.  Though in thinking a bit deeper (which is what we counselors do), I couldn’t help but notice how Minute To Win It (like all gameshows) is a works-based mentality, at best.  If you complete the task at hand to the level or expectation that has been set, then you receive the prize.  If not, you have failed and either have to start the level over for another chance, or leave the game with what you have earned / won.  Since you only get three chances, there is little room for error. 

Can you imagine if that was the same system that God set for us?  “OK, Fred.  You have three chances to get your life perfectly, at the expectation I have set.  If you fail in the first three tries, then you have to leave this life and go to Hades.”  It wouldn’t take long for me to flunk out of life.  If God measured us based on our ability to fulfill his expectations of righteousness by works, then we wouldn’t have a chance.  Isaiah said that even our best works are like “filthy rags” (equivalent to a used tampon – yucky thought, I know – but that’s what that means!) (64:6). 

Praise God that he does not measure us by our works, but by our faith in Jesus Christ.  Jesus performed every expectation of righteousness set by God through the law, took our punishment for us on the cross (because we couldn’t meet the standard), and rose again on the third day, thus defeating death.  Therefore, by accepting Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are, by faith, believing that Jesus met the standard of perfection for us, that He paid the penalty for us (not meeting the standard of perfection), and overcame death (our punishment) for us.  He did all of this for us…and all we have to do is believe.  By our faith (which was given to us by Jesus – Heb 12:2) in Christ, we win!  By our works, we lose.  We will never be good enough to meet the standards of righteousness.

Some of those challenges in Minute to Win It seem pretty tough.  I’m not sure if I’d get that Million Dollar Challenge if I had a lifetime of trying.  But thank God that Jesus met every challenge given.  He had won the Million Dollar Challenge.  He had met every expectation of righteousness…and He had done it out of love for you and for me.  Now the choice is yours.   Will you stop trying to earn his favor by good works?  Will you accept what He has done for you by faith?  If you haven’t done so, do so today without delay…you will not regret it!