Wednesday, July 26, 2017

When life is a puzzle

My younger son loves to work on puzzles. Since he was a toddler I am amazed me by his patience and perseverance as he tries to fit each piece of the puzzle in its proper location. Sometimes I try to help, but I get frustrated way too soon, stuck with one piece of the puzzle that does not seem to fit properly anywhere, and I give up on trying to reach the bigger picture.

While I watched him the other day working on his puzzle, it hit me that life is just like a puzzle. Or rather, my life is one piece of a bigger puzzle. All the information I have about myself lies in this one piece that has been given to me. I don't know exactly where it goes in the big picture, and the colors printed on it don't even make sense. All I get to see are the lines, curves and cuts on this one piece that has been given to me.

Sometimes, it seems as my piece has no purpose, function or meaning; it is just a broken part longing to be connected to something bigger, to become part of something complete. But I hang on, to this one piece, knowing that it is also whom I am.

I watch as my son carefully places the parts of his puzzle together, and then after working hard for a few days, he finally lands the last piece inside the puzzle. A beautiful picture takes shape, it makes sense now, it has meaning. It took hundreds of small, insignificant shapes and pieces, but once attached together, they all serve a purpose, they are all valuable.

With a smile on my face, I understand the message right in front of me, in the form of this puzzle. God has given me my one piece, and it is worthless to burn my brain trying to rationalize why my piece looks the way it does, why it has cuts and bright spots and dark spots in a strange mix, why it does not look like that other person's piece. But now I get it, my piece is part of a bigger picture, way bigger than my brain can wrap around.

Heavenly hands place this puzzle together, covering thousands of years and billions of people. He knows how beautiful the bigger picture will look like when all the pieces come together. He values each piece as unique, beautiful and meaningful. He loves every piece to death.

I can rest in this truth. I can hold unto my piece of the puzzle, and love the way it looks, cherish its cuts and bright and dark spots. I can rest assured that my piece is necessary, essential, vital in the making of this puzzle. Without my piece, there is no final picture. And yet, I don't need to know how the pieces fit together, I don't need to try to figure things out. God takes care of the puzzle, I can rest on His hands. 

"For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully know."

Friday, January 6, 2017

My New Year Resolution

There are many ways to face life.

With wide open eyes, letting the raw realities of life sink in, which often leads to despair, as the world has a lot of evil and sadness in it.

With blurry rose lens, letting superficial illusions distract the mind, which often leads to unrealistic and wishful thinking.

With needle focused lens, targeting only the good in every situation, which often leads to downfalls when presented with situations that don't display any positive side to it.

Welcome to 2017! Are you encouraged yet?!

What if there was another way to face life, with wide open eyes, synched focus and realistic lens, but without the pitfalls of despair?

My 2017 New Year Resolution is to seek a better way of facing life, by changing my thoughts.

They say we are our thoughts. Thoughts create neural pathways, which are reinforced every time we have similar thoughts. No wonder, sadness leads to sadness, and it is hard to climb out of downward emotional spirals.

I believe the alternative lays beyond adding positive thinking to our days. What if we could have the thoughts we were created to have?

The creator says "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.... For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than yours." What if we could have higher thoughts, higher than the earth?

There is a way. When I make God's thoughts my thoughts I will have higher thoughts, thoughts I was created to have. I will have thoughts within an eternal perspective, beyond my personal wisdom.

Therefore, my 2017 New Year Resolution is to think:

- as I wake up: "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."

- as I wonder the purpose of events: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths."

- as I face the unknown: "The Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one."

- as I get tired of my daily work: "Let us not grown weary of doing good... As we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone..."

- as I fear the future: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."

And many more.

This year I want to remind myself every day:

- face life with wide open eyes, aware of good and evil,
- don't let superficial illusions distract my eyes,
- know that the war between good and evil has already been won,
- the enemy is big, God is bigger,
for such a day as this one, I was created,
- go and fulfill the great commission,
- seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness,
- fix my eyes on Jesus,
- keep my perspective, eternal.

And anything else that I can not understand the reason, purpose or existence in my life, I trust that it is because at this moment I only see in a dimly mirror, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully even as I have been fully known!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

When Christmas never ends

My boys wait in expectation for the exciting moments Christmas day promises to bring. There is a frenzy in the air hurrying all the arrangements, getting the to do list done before the big event.

Every year, Christmas comes and goes. Gifts are wrapped and unwrapped. Foods are carefully cooked and arranged, and slowly disappear from the table. Decorations go up and a few weeks later, down. A movement forward, and slowly away. The season of getting ready for this one special day, and then letting go, until it comes again next year.

Regardless of the dozen extra traditions attached to this holiday, or the consumerism coming in hand with business, Christmas is a reminder, maybe a diluted reminder to many, that Christ has come.

That moment in history when the Creator took the form of his creation for the sake of the created. Him, who created man from the dust of the ground, likewise took form. Him, who breathed life into man's nostrils, inhaled breath as a human baby.

Christ, who wrapped creation together, willingly unwrapped himself from eternity, from immortality and from his Father's side, to be wrapped as a baby in a manger. All powerful coming in vulnerability, all knowing coming in simplicity and all loving coming to a place of rejection. This is love.

God's love moved history towards the direction of exciting news to humanity: God is with us! Eternal life in the form of a touchable, visible and relational man: Jesus Christ.

A movement forward, from the part of God, reaching for the lost, reaching for the distant. Christ with his own pierced hands reaching out. This movement, forward, by the part of God, never goes away. Never unwinds. Never slows down.

He is hurrying for you, making all the arrangements for you and offering all his presence for you, because Christmas is not a yearly event. Christmas is God coming and never leaving. Reaching and never letting you go.

The word became flesh not only to be born, but to die. Not only to die, but on your behalf to save you. Not for a Christmas season, but forever.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Friday, November 11, 2016

When voting for the right candidate matters

Observing my boys throughout the years, I have clearly noticed that they have been born with very different personalities and motivations. My youngest usually focus primarily on details while my oldest tends to focus on the big picture. They both have the ability, of course, to see details and to see the big picture, but most of the time they will tend towards their natural focus.

I admire people who tend to focus on details, because they are able to work tireless on specific projects without being distracted and, more importantly, overwhelmed by the big picture. I am a big picture person and it is overwhelming to see the mess, brokenness and suffering inside the big picture of the world.

In this election season, however, I am reminded that even my big picture focus is not big enough. I need to step further back, way way back, and look at this moment in History from a very wide and long perspective. Kingdoms have risen and have fallen, leaders have come and have gone for thousands of years, all over the world. Movements have been ignited and have been extinguished. And none of them have made the world an ideal place.

We are all broken people, with broken leaders, in a broken world. One kingdom, however, has risen and never fallen. One kingdom, however, has started and will never end. And one kingdom, however, has a perfect King.

Its royal once said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world."

Broken kingdoms and kings will come from a broken world. What else to expect when the prince of this world is the enemy?

"The devil took him [Jesus], to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, 'All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.' Then Jesus said to him, 'Be gone, Satan! For it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'"

C. S. Lewis said, "It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."

Imagine voting when your vote for the right candidate will affect your eternity, your everlasting life, your chance to have a place inside the king's palace, a perfect eternal kingdom. Don't be easily pleased for less.

Jesus, the perfect royal, did not overthrown any power or ruler while he lived on this earth because he knew such action would be an extremely short sighted plan. Instead, he started a perfect, never ending term, by sacrificing his heart full of love for that of his people.

Today, still living in a broken world, what should we do? "Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."

Before Jesus died on earth he celebrated an event well known as the last supper.  To understand this, we need to look at Jewish history. Ann Voskamp in her book 'The broken way' describes this first century custom, "When a man had decided whom he'd chosen to marry, his father would pour a cup of wine and pass it down to his son. The son would then turn to the young woman he loved, and with all the solemnity of an oath before Almighty YHWH {God} Himself, the young man would hold out the cup of wine to the woman and ask for her hand in marriage. He would ask with these words: 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which I offer to you.'" This is what Jesus said to those with him at the last supper when he handed them a cup of wine.  Jesus was offering to them, and offers to you still today, to be not just your representative in power, but your spouse, your love companion, your spring of eternal life.

God wants your broken heart to make it whole again, will you give him your vote of trust?

Monday, September 12, 2016

A family to belong

My boys love super heroes. They fulfill their dreams of becoming part of a special crowd of beings who can perform amazing feats. With a super hero mindset, kids can daydream about moving beyond their childhood existence into a supernatural podium, from where their imagination can be fueled into endless plays.

Now, what about the rest of us? Do we dream about being super heroes, about achieving big wishes? If you could have any special attribute or power, what would you long for? If you could obtain anything in the entire Universe, what would that be?

Would your desire be to spend lots of time talking to simple fishermen? Or maybe walk for hours through dusty roads and sit down to eat with robbers and street women?

Or maybe touch sick people and deal with crowds of endless requests? Or maybe your biggest wish would be to feel what is like to receive a capital punishment? Anyone?

But what if your biggest wish was to have the biggest loving family of all? Lots of sons, daughters, brothers and sisters, from all over the world, from all over history, gathered together around a huge table, filled with love and care?

God's plan for you and me is to be part of his family. He gave his only son to die for you, because his family was not complete without you. He had all the super powers at his hand and all the Universe has to offer at his possession, except for you.

For you, he sent his son Jesus, who left it all and entered time, suffering, rejection, violence, betrayal, God's judgement and death. So that you could be adopted into his family.

Jesus Christ, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Now, to all who receive him, who believe in his hame, he gives the right to become Children of God! See what kind of love the Father has given us, that we should be called Children of God?!

Better than any super hero title, or endless possessions, to be born into a Divine Family gives us eternal life! Victory over death! And the love of a Father that is infinite above any other.

In Jesus we can become sons and daughters of God, through faith. And God is indeed a good, good Father.

Friday, July 22, 2016

When the World spins like a Dust Storm


The desert is a good reminder of life's fragility. One look around and the message is clear: Lifeless. Unforgiving. Mortal. The only priority when stuck in a desert is the search for water. Every drop of it becomes priceless. Because water is life giving and its absence is death. 

Each speck of dust in a desert is longing for one thing: water. It does not matter how polished or unpolished the speck might be, they all remain in their stillness waiting for life giving water. Without it, nothing in their core can be useful for a thriving living plant, let alone for larger animals who survive on plants. 

Once in a while, the wind blows strong gusts and the dust specks move around. They look full of life as they dance in the air, but they are as dead as before, still longing for real hydration. In the end, they are just part of a dust storm, most likely to end in another desert location, as dry as before. 

When I think about those dust specks, I can't stop thinking about myself. The similarities they carry with human beings. From an outer universe perspective, we look as big and as important as a dust speck, dead in the desert, longing for real water. It does not matter how polished or unpolished we are, we are not catchy enough to be the highlight of the universe. 

Once in a while, the wind blows strong gusts; movements, transformations or revolutions happen. At first, they look full of life and promise, but in the end, they are just part of a dust storm, most likely to end in another desert location, as dry as before. 

Unless... the rain poured strong, heavy and long enough to transform it all. 

Unless... someone bigger than the dust specks, gave them real water. 

There is really nothing we can do to transform ourselves out of the dust speck configuration. No self motivation, no self development and no self improvement. In the end, we all go back to dust. Unless... eyes bigger than our smallness, glanced at our fragility and offered us real water. 

And he did. The one bigger than all of us, Jesus Christ, offered to become small as us, to rescue you and I from the curse of dust, offering a future of life.

Dust storms will come and go, with their own unique formats and different names, but at the end of the day, they are just dust storms, false promises of hope. Tailored to different tastes, aspirations and desires, it may feel cozy and cheerful to be part of our own dust storms titles. 

However, nothing beats the feeling of being tenderly rescued by strong hands, out of the desert, and lovely placed next to a river of living water. 

"Christ Jesus, emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross".

"I came that they may have life and have it abundantly".

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