32nd Wedding Anniversary! June 29, 1984 – June 29, 2016
32nd Wedding Anniversary! June 29, 1984 – June 29, 2016
I’ve always been slightly annoyed that we know little to nothing about Jesus’ life from age 12 to 30 (Luke 2:42; Matt. 4:17; John 2:11). That’s 18 years of silence and obscurity from the most polarizing figure in human history. Reclusive to the point that we protest, “how dare you hide yourself away for that long when so many needed you?”
Think of it. For 18 years no miracles – lepers, the lame, the sick – he let them all suffer. Disease and disasters of all kinds and he did nothing. Roman Tyranny: nothing. Think of a summer that he knew that the drought would be so bad the farmers would lose their crops. The one who controls the winds and the waves did nothing. Somewhere along the way Joseph, his mother’s husband, would die. Jesus stood by. No healing. No resurrection. For 18 years not one miracle, not one public sermon to establish that the Messiah is here. What was Jesus doing for 18 years while living in a poor, off the beat town like Nazareth, while the world was in desperate need?
Jesus was Enjoying Life without Greed or Guilt.
Let’s build the argument like this:
If Jesus got up in the morning to get some eggs out of the hen house, and there were no eggs for breakfast, Jesus did not fix the problem for his mother.
If Jesus saw that the milking cow would contract an infection that spoiled the milk, Jesus did not “heal” the cow.
If Jesus knew that a terrible and horrific evil was approaching his community, he did alter the plans of wicked men.
When I say that Jesus was living the words of Wisdom (Ecc.), I do not mean to say that he did not weep, grieve, work at, and agonize over the brokenness of the world that he lived in. But I do mean to say that Jesus lived his life without Greed or Guilt.
Greed. Jesus never gave into self-pity; discontent with things that he did not have; greedy for things that he never owned or experienced; he never became greedy for reputation and fame and greedy and impatient for making things right when his Father was “too late”.
Guilt. Also, you wouldn’t see Jesus sulking, despising the very things of earth as if they were evil. He attended festivals and weddings, went fishing, built things out of wood, slept at night, enjoyed good food, brought in the harvest, and worshiped God on a daily and weekly schedule, in his Father’s Word, in his Father’s house. I don’t think that Jesus ever uttered under his breath, “I feel so guilty for enjoying the things that I and my Father made.”
On one hand, we are to “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” – Colossians 3:2.
But on the other hand, “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer” – 1 Timothy 4:4-5
And a verse that teaches both:
“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy” – 1 Timothy 6:17
Don’t love the things of this life. And, Enjoy the things of this life!
We are to neither permit greed to swallow up our hearts with discontent for things that we cannot have and cannot fix, nor are we to repudiate and shun the good gifts of life simply because there is so much brokenness in the world. Greed or Guilt will keep you from Enjoying Life as a Gift from Your Father in Heaven.
Love of money and reputation and discontent and self-pity will destroy you and others around you. When we say no to the world’s love affair with the things of this earth, we are not shunning God’s good gifts, we are putting them in their proper order of importance. Things are passing away.
But, when we begin to feel dirty and undeserving as we enjoy some homemade peach ice-cream, a good swim, a long nap, and refreshing conversation and fellowship in a safe home, it is because we have forgotten that these things were never earned in the first place – they are gifts of grace from a loving Father who loves to give that we may enjoy Him who is the giver.
> Our guard against loving the things of this life too much is not a repudiation of things, but an ordering of Real importance. We are to be afraid of losing our Love for God as Greed and Guilt undermine our Enjoyment of this Life.
> “We Can Change the World” is too often, an ego trip of an exaggerated level of Self-Importance. Your life is not that significant! Most people can’t remember to change the filter in their furnace or keep their room clean, even less, “change the world.” If Jesus did not “change the world” for 18 years, AND, he did not waste his life at the same time, then, take a chill pill and get over yourself. No one’s life mattered more to the earth than Jesus’ did – and for 18 years he lived a simple – poor – irrelevant life, in terms of how the world values living and relevancy.
> Your Identity and Self-Worth is not in your Performance, but rather it is in Christ, who did not “Change the World” for 18 years. Too often we are greedy to make a difference, to fix a problem, to prevent a disaster. Yes, let us not be indifferent to the needs of our family and friends, and the sorrows of mankind all over the earth. Love your Neighbor is the Lord’s command. But do not forget that Jesus fulfilled that command for 18 years while he performed no miracle, healed none, resurrected none, spared none, and prevented none. But he did love others through their sorrows and did what any God-Honoring Human ought to do.
But that was his mark on the world. The way man is supposed to live his life toward God and his fellowman. Loving his Father, and loving others. If it takes miracle working power, and great influence upon mankind in order to have true Identity and Self-Worth, then for 18 years, not even Jesus was worth living. But his life did have value. And so does yours. Love God. Love your Church. Love the Word. Love your Lord. Fight against the encroachment of greed and discontent, and fight against needless guilt that robs you of enjoying the blessings of the Lord, even in the face of so much sorrow and tears in the world.
> Finally, you are free to live an Important yet Simple Life of Loving Christ and Fellowman. A simple life is not unimportant. It’s loving. You are living your life by God’s grace, loving your Lord and serving a few others along the way to your new earth. A life that continues after the grave.
(some thoughts on this subject were helped along by Joe Rigney in his book, The Things of Earth)
That’s Coho Salmon caught about 13 miles out on Lake Michigan. And that’s my son-in-law sitting down because if he we’re standing, well . . . he wouldn’t be standing. We’d be fishing him out of the water too, or off the deck of the boat. This is because he has muscular dystrophy.
The world has always valued muscular strength, and for good reason: Someone has to un-lid those stubborn jars! Physical strength is a wonderful gift from the Lord, like his many other gifts. But, we live in a broken world with a thousand broken ways of brokenness. And unfortunately, we often idolize our strengths without a thought of humility that we have been blessed. You see this in sports where there is more muscle-mass on display than in any other venue of life. Especially in weight lifting, football, and any combat sport. But you can also see this in a little boys’ bedroom as he picks up his metal-frame bed at the footboard, making that Six Million Dollar Man sound, pretending that he’s the strongest of them all: ttttrrrrrnnaaannnaannnaannn . . .
That boy was me as I would finish watching a 70’s episode of Lee Majors lifting a car off the ground to save a little old lady; god-like strength has always been a marvel. And don’t even get me started on the recent years of muscular strength displayed in the Marvel Comic stream of movies. Point: mankind has always marveled in extra-ordinary muscles – as far back as the Greek stories of Atlas and Hercules.
Joey Slogar III, my daughter’s husband, and father of my grandchildren, does not have much of what this world prizes. But he does have what out-lasts muscle-tissue: a soul. In fact, everyone has a soul – it’s that part of our humanity that is immaterial and eternal. We all know it to be true of ourselves because we all want to live forever in a place where brokenness ceases to exist, and death is forever banished. But more than a soul is needed for this kind of joyful vitality. It takes a soul that knows the one whose body was completely broken down and yet rose victorious over all that this broken world could dish out. To live forever with no fracture of body or mind needs a healer who has the power and authority to overturn the dystrophy of the soul. Yes, the dystrophy of the soul is our greatest threat. And since Joey loves Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, the greatest threat to Joey’s long-term paralysis is already defeated. Let’s say it with pictures:
This is what muscles look like when you’re young.
This is what muscles look like when you’re old.
And this is what muscles look like when you’re dead.
But this is what muscles look like when they are dystrophic, BUT the soul, which is more than muscles, enjoys the good gifts of the Lord.
Joey is more than his muscles in the best way possible. He knows who is mightier than the brokenness of man. True, his biceps don’t have the impressive flex factor that others have, but as the apostle Paul reminded young Timothy, “for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” – (1 Timothy 4:8). This means that for everyone whose muscles are either in atrophy or in dystrophy – makes no difference; the most important thing is the pursuit of knowing the godliness of the Lord. We must remember that being born with visible brokenness is not due to mom and dad’s sin (John 9:3a). But due to sin, which is unbelief and rejection of God who sent his Son, all of us come into the world with our hearts not merely weak, but dead and condemned (John 3:18-19). The good news is that if Jesus can raise the spiritually dead, then it is a cinch to also provide a new body (Matt. 9:5; John 11:25).
The pain of muscle-loss in this life is temporary. The pain of soul-loss is forever. This is why it is important for all of us to remember while living in a muscle-idolizing culture, that we are more than our muscles.For those who have come under the grace that is in Christ Jesus, like Joey, muscular dystrophy will not have the final word. Jesus will – and that’s the point:
“. . . that the works of God might be displayed in him” – John 9:3b!
They, Connie and daughter Brittney, do much good for the city of Chicago through events and sponsorship’s to help children in the inner city. There were close to 700 registered for the “Sweetness 8k and 5k Run”. By God’s good mercies on our bodies, we were able to do well in this (first for me) 5k. I had a few objectives: outrun Cheryl and Ashley; outrun all pregnant women; outrun all senior citizens; and outrun all those who are directionally challenged – surly I can beat anyone who gets lost!
A couple pics:
5k chip times:
Me: 24:11 – placed first in the male 50-54 slot;
Cheryl: 29:50 – placed third in the female 50-54 slot;
Ashley: 27:11 – placed second in the 25-29 slot.
Good times together!