Posted in Comfort, Eternity, Perspective, Relevance, Relevant

Best Before

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I’ve somehow gotten grouped into the “older” generation of typewriters, handwritten notes and telephone calls. It wasn’t that long ago that I was on the other side of the generational curve telling everyone else what was new, what was the newest trend. I don’t find this new reality that I’m facing, my own mortality, comfortable. Have I become out of style myself? Am I past my “best before” date?

In the grocery store, there are “best before” dates stamped on the products lining the aisles. Some have longer “best before” dates than others; there are even some products whose dates are 2-3 years from the day they are purchased. That’s the kind of product I want to be, my best before date falling many years into the future.

The reality is that many of the things we reject in the store because their “best before” date is either close or even past, but the items are still usable. I watched a news report on a store in Europe that uses these items that have been rejected because their “best before” dates have passed to help lower income families. The savings passed on to those in society who are more vulnerable has been remarkable.

While groceries can go out of date, truth doesn’t expire. It may come with different wrappings from generation to generation but at its core, it remains constant. What was attractive wrapping 50 years ago, that helped people understand what was being said, doesn’t necessarily speak the same to those receiving the message today. A different wrapping might be required.

What appears to be forgotten in the static that we produce in our attempts to have an acceptable presentation to society, may very well steer us away from sharing the truth openly. Neglecting to speak the truth can be as damaging as rejecting it for without exposure, truth won’t be understood by the hearers and when it is spoken, it sounds foreign.

1 John 2:7,8a TLB“Dear brothers I am not writing out a new rule for you to obey, for it is an old one you have always had, right from the start. You have heard it all before. Yet it is always new and works for you…”

The truth is trustworthy, unlike methods that are fallible, it remains constant. Trying to wrap truth in a way that is acceptable to the masses is impossible for the truth oftentimes hurts before it heals. Truth is like that “faithful friend” who won’t let us down:

Proverbs 27:6 NKJ“Faithful are the wounds of a friend. But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”

Rejecting the truth for cultural acceptance is nothing new – there’s “nothing new under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9). From the time of the church’s inception, there were those attempting to keep the truth hidden because it was past its “best before” date.

2 Peter 3:1-9 NKJ vs. 2-4a “…be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His Coming?…” 

People will always question the truth for their lack of understanding; they won’t like the way its packaged and will buck against it in order to appear to be in the right, in the face of truth (whose message seems to be irrelevant to the current crowd). The problem with questioning the truth according to the ebbs and flows of society is that truth then ebbs and flows with the changes making truth relative instead of absolute.

Truth is what gives us security and safety. My children know for a fact that I love them unconditionally. No matter what they might do, no matter what the consequences they face due to their actions; I will always love them. They can rest in that fact and never question whether or not they are loved.

Truth that changes with the seasons of society gives no standard or security to those hoping to live by it. Children whose parents base their love and acceptance on performance offer their children no solid foundation on which to base their lives. These children who failed to reach the standards provided end up themselves rejecting God’s truth for they have not experienced the unconditional truth of God’s love.

Today, instead of being solid, truth has become fluid – it can easily change shape much like freezing water to make ice. If indeed this is what truth has become to us as believers, where is our hope of His coming? Where is our assurance of His grace in the face of our sin? Society reacts to these questions by creating its own truth that has crept into the church – and the church has, by and large, succumbed to the whims of what is relevant, popular, and will “draw the crowds.”

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It may be that the frustration we feel, however, is after winning the crowds we fail to keep them or, if we do keep them, see them become active participants in what we know has given us purpose. While appealing to the culture of our surroundings is necessary to speak communicate the message of God’s love to those around us, appealing to culture will not keep a hungry soul.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 NLT“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.”

Hidden in the heart of everyone, God has placed a sensitivity for things eternal. If what we offer to those we are called to appeals only to the surface, the longing of eternity will drive those people to find what their hearts long for: a connection with the Maker Himself. For the sake of keeping the harvest of souls God gives us, we have a responsibility to bring them beyond appealing to the culture but to address the longing for eternity.

Posted in Bible reading, Doubt, Faith

The Book Is Better Than The Movie

My little daughter has discovered the “Chronicles of Narnia” movie series. As we’ve watched the movies, she immediately understood the symbolism without my telling her that the Lion was representative of Jesus and how in the Witch represented Satan. “Jesus,” she said, “wins over them all.”

I love these movies – but you know I’ve read the books and the truth is that the books are better than the movies. To get the story right, you have to read the books. You see when you read the books, you get the whole story, not a brief and unreliable version of it. Movies that are made about books are brief summaries based on opinions of others who read the books – how they understood the plot, perhaps not to the liking of the author.

The “Narnia” movies are somewhat accurate in keeping the storylines to those of the books – but they leave a lot out as a 2-hour movie doesn’t lend enough time to tell the tale of several hundred pages of narrative. It’s still a “bare bones” rendition, leaving out what the original authors wanted you to get out of the story.

Some years ago the movie, “Noah” came out. I went I think a couple of days after it was released and I left thinking I had seen a science fiction movie. There were rock creatures that talked and all kinds things that weren’t present in the Book. You see, it was told as the screenwriters wanted it told so it might sell more tickets.

Our lives with the Lord can somehow be uncannily similar; there are “screenwriters” out there making a display of what living for the Lord should look like so it can appear popular to the masses. So they can sell their movie tickets, so they will be popular among the “relevant” movements in Christianity.  The screenwriters are so wrong in their editing movies for I’ve never heard of a movie being better than the book. Yet, for some reason, people fall for their movie trailers and promises of great popcorn and perks if you sign up for their movie app.

The Father, the Author, wants to write His Book in you and live it through you – WHAT IF we allowed Him to do just that?

So, it may be that you have been watching a movie trailer or have been watching the movie itself. Maybe you read parts of the book before but the movie sounded so good; the details of the Real Story have faded in your memory. The Book is so much better – maybe the movie has changed your mind just a bit. Made the truths you knew fade into the far recesses of times past. Perhaps the screenwriter version has become so popular that you find yourself wondering at times if the Book really is true.

I wanted to bring us back today to the Greatest Storyteller of all time Who not only wrote but sent His Son to live out the story for us, to make us free. What has happened over time is that this world and even Christianity’s “make me feel better and relevant with this world” culture, waters down the truths that this, the Greatest Author of all time, wrote in His Book.

Does this new screenplay we are all watching in this day and age really make us feel better? The compromise, the belief that God’s standards are somehow “out of date” and need to be “altered” to fit today’s world. It’s outdated, they say, so it needs to be made relevant.

Yes, languages change, colour palates change from season to season, and we may even change our hairstyle (I have heard every woman has an average of 5-7 hairstyles in her lifetime and some of us still remember the colour “seafoam green”), and we have hopefully stopped wearing shoulder pads that made us look like football players.

But the Book tells us what He is really like, what living for Him is meant to be. It is easy to be persuaded to believe something else when we don’t remind ourselves of what He is like daily. When I begin to listen to what “the evidence” points to, that God doesn’t care about me, or I’m not sure if He loves me, or that I should live holy but it’s ok if I don’t, I start the process of forgetting Who He really is and replacing what I once knew to be true, for a lie.

Our enemy fights, but not overtly. He begins by telling us lies – his ambition is to take our authority from us for he wants to take as many down with him as he can. Satan’s lies begin as partial truths that are overemphasized into error – let me give you an example. Are we the righteousness of God in Christ? Yes!!! But we are also nothing without Him. If we only speak of how wonderful we are – we sway into error and forget that He is all and all and without Him we are lost!

What if we took the time to open the Book, and really remember what it says?

The Greatest Storyteller, the Author, sent His Son to live as one of us so we could reign with Him – and our Lord Jesus won His war. And now the spiritual war that wages in the heavenlies is ours to win through His wonderful victory ( see Ephesians 6).

Jesus left heaven, became fully man and was at the same time, fully God (see Hebrews 2:7) and Jesus, in His lifetime, used the authority Adam had lost. He was not the offspring of Adam; He was not subject to the laws of fallen man because He was God in man (see Hebrews 1:8). He then turned around and shared His authority with us:

Revelation 1:6 NKJ and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

 1 Peter 2:9 NKJ “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;”

We don’t fight with a sword, flailing in our own strength. We stand with a scepter as kings. This is how we win – understanding what the Book, not the movie (society, popular messages and movements), says.

Today’s messages tell us to be self-centered in that we are to seek after what’s best for us and our own – but God’s wisdom says we are to serve as Jesus did Philippians 2:3-11 vs. 5 “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” We are to take up His mind and put away our own for using our own hasn’t worked thus far, has it?

Imagine what happened! Jesus left heaven as God, He returned as God-man as He completed the work of redemption and left us with the authority to enforce it in the earth. And then life happens, the movie trailers begin to play, and we are no longer “mindful” or full of the mind of Christ.

But you see the Book reminds us of the truths that the screenplay leaves out:

Revelation 12:11 NKJ “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”

We will overcome, not by falling for the lies and deceptions of the movie trailers – but by His blood and the testimony of our lips of what He, the Son, has done for us. How do we win a war when we are in prison? What prison, you say? The one we put ourselves in when we allow our minds to be chained to the screenplay. We are in prison when we are deceived, when we believe a lie.

This was done just for our age, what will He do in ages to come?

Ephesians 2:7 NKJ “that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

For there are more Books to be written, more stories He will tell – this is only our beginning. The Father has been forever; there’s never been a time that He wasn’t and He has chosen to include us in this journey. Why not join Him and read the Book – stop watching the movies – and break off those chains.

He is good, His purposes are good, and the Book is definitely better than the movie.