Heaven Is Our True Home – Pt. 1

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“GOD’S STORY, your story” – Pt. 5

Do you know what amazes me?  What I find real astounding is just how attached most of us are to the things of this life.  We slave and work hard to earn money.  Some people inherit it, others cheat, lie and steal to get money.  And what do they do with it?  They buy more and more stuff that is bigger and “better” than our old stuff.  Or we use our money to pamper ourselves and make “improvements” to our bodies, in hopes that we might live just a little longer.

Seeing the danger of money, some Christians inaccurately quote the Bible and say, “Money is the root of all evil.”  Actually, it is not the object (money) that is the problem, it is the love of it and pursuit of what it can do that is the problem.  Look at how it is actually quoted in 1 Timothy 6:10

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

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We need to ask ourselves why we allow ourselves to get caught up in the “deceitfulness of wealth” (Mark 4:13).  For many of us, it is not our intention to get caught up in the things of this world.  But as this parable of Jesus states in Mark 4, many people hear the Word of God and would gladly follow its teachings, but the good things of this life and the worries about protecting our possessions that go along with it choke out the possibility of spiritual fruitfulness in our lives.

Max Lucado speaks to this issue in chapter 3 of his book “GOD’S STORY, your story.”  It really is easy for many of us who live in the affluent culture of North America to get wooed into thinking that “this life is a good life” as we are able to surround ourselves with our comfortable materialism.  Lucado says that we can get to the point of actually believing that this life is the “real life”.  That is why we can be so shocked when reality does puncture our bubble.  Listen to Lucado from pp 58 – 59:

But then the flies come out.  People die, earthquakes rumble, and nations rage.  Families collapse, and children die of hunger.  Dictators snort and treat people like, well, like pigs.  And this world stinks.

And we have a choice.  We can pretend this life is all God intended.  Or …  We can come to our senses.  We can follow the example of the prodigal son.  “I will set out and go back to my father” (Luke 15:18.

Perhaps part of the problem for us today is that there is so much to choose from these days.  Our supermarkets abound in food choices, our closets are overflowing with clothes, there are hundreds of interesting places that we can choose from to go have our vacation, and if we don’t do it this year, we will just wait and do it next year.

This world is a beautiful world, no doubt about it.  But we must not get so enamoured by the things in this life that we forget that we are just passing through this life and are being prepared for our eternal life that still lies ahead of us.  We must not lose sight of where we are truly meant to be as we look around at the pretty things in this life.  Lucado paints the picture well in an airplane analogy on page 59:

 Suppose this announcement were heard: “Ladies and gentlemen, this flight is your final destination.  We will never land.  Your home is this plane, so enjoy the journey.”

Passengers would become mutineers. We’d take over the cockpit and seek a landing strip.  We wouldn’t settle for such an idea.  The journey is not the destination.

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I think Jill and I get reminded of this frequently as we move back and forth between Canada, the US and Papua New Guinea in our ministry work for God.  We do have a condo, or should I say a mortgage, back in Canada.  But every year, we are packing our bags up again to travel across the world to do our Bible translation work in PNG.

When we get overseas, we will try to set up our home there for the couple months that we are there.  But it is so obvious that this is just a temporary residence and not really our own home.  The silverware drawer got moved again.  The pictures, if there are any, are not ours.  We have trouble finding a matching sheet set for the bed.

And yet, we keep on coming back over here.  Not for what we can get out of it, or the fact that PNG is a tropical paradise on earth.  But rather, we are trying to make a difference in people’s lives with the translated Word of God.  Because there awaits an eternal home for all of us, and we want to share that Good News with the people here.

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So here is what I am trying to say: for some of us like Jill and me, we will never be able to settle down and “make a home”, while others do have the means to make themselves a very comfortable home.  But for all of us, this should not be our ultimate goal in life, for there is a heavenly home awaiting all who are God’s children.  Let’s not forget: Heaven is our True Home.

[God’s Story, Your Story] Max Lucado.  Copyright [Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2011]  Used by permission.

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Satan Is The True Enemy – Pt. 2

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“GOD’S STORY, your story” – Pt. 4

As mentioned two weeks ago, at the end of Max Lucado’s book, “GOD’S STORY, your story“, there are study questions and activities to consider that relate to each chapter.  I invite you to read the book, and look over the entire question and application section.  In my articles, I will usually only pick up on two or three questions and relate them to my own experiences. 

                                          

Chapter 2: When God’s Story Becomes Yours….
YOU KNOW SATAN’S NEXT MOVE

Question #1: This chapter talks about the distractions of “possessions and problems.”  Share with the group the distractions you seem to encounter most — distractions that keep you from engaging the story of God in Scripture.

Most people know that the ministry work I do is Bible translation.  Our family lived out in a remote village in Papua New Guinea for five years.  During that time, I learned the language and culture of the people, and helped to get the Gospel of Mark translated into their language.  Thankfully, I had a basic word list, a grammar paper of the language and some notes on Mark from the man who had started the language project years before we got there.

In light of all the resources I had, it still surprises some people at how long it still took us to finally finish and translate Mark.  The reason is that there is so much more involved than just doing translation when you live out in these remote villages.  The translator before me also built the house we lived in out of hewn and planed timbers from trees in the jungle.  That was nice, but the upkeep seemed to be never ending.  In those five years, I also learned to become a carpenter, a plumber, an electrician, a small engine mechanic, and much more.

I found then that this nice home out in the jungle often became a distraction from what I had come to PNG to do, to give God’s Word to the people who had never had the Bible in their language before.  But I know I spent a lot of time making sure that our own family was safe and secure and comfortable, while all around me the national people were living in small huts made out of jungle material that usually fell down in about five years.  I would not call this a direct scheme of the Devil, but I do have to be honest that my “mansion” was a barrier between me and the people.

Question #2: What kind of personal attacks does the Enemy plot?  How does he attempt to divide people?  Have you seen the Devil at work?  Do you tend to underestimate or overestimate the Devil’s activity?

Let me continue now to give some other background to our life in the village that shows how Satan has been (and still is in places) very active in dividing the people and attacking them with lies that destroy people’s lives.  One legend that is popular in PNG is the creation story.  In this story there are two brothers who either through their positive creative energies, or through their negative battles for supremacy, created the spark of life and the world came into existence.

The story continues with the elder brother leaving the younger brother on this island called PNG.  The older brother was going to go out into the world and discover all the riches and treasures and wisdom that the world contained, while the younger brother was left behind with nothing.   But the legend says that one day the older brother would come back and be reunited with the younger brother and share all the goods (called cargo) and the secrets to obtaining them.

Interestingly, some of the PNG legends end by saying that the older brother, when he came back, was a white-skinned man.  So…imagine what some of the people in the villages around us thought when the translator before me was going to come back after being away for almost ten years and join me in a “return celebration”.  Word went out, and immediately the legend rumours were ignited and it was thought that this other translator and I were finally going to tell the secret to get the “cargo” or material possessions of this world.

    

What’s sad is to realize that many of these people who live in this remote area have seen many “rich white people” come with huge amounts of clothing, food, amazing gadgets and objects with them.  And we never seem to “work” for what we have.  (Sitting at a desk over a laptop all day is work??)  And they never see us use money out in the bush.  We would just ask over our two-way radio for more goods and supplies, and presto, there they were on the next plane.  No wonder they thought we knew the right “magic”.

The end result from our big “celebration day” is that we had a wonderful reunion with our friend who came out to our village.  But none of the villagers received this magic cargo from the skies.  And this produced such heated arguments that it almost started an inter-tribal war.  Thankfully, I had been told what was going on, and I was able to hold an all-evening teaching/preaching time of explaining that these pursuits for material wealth do not come from God.  These evil desires come from Satan.

That is what we need to remember most.  The material objects themselves are not evil, but in Satan’s hands they become so if our focus is twisted to be only pursuing after them, instead of pursuing after a better relationship with our God.  How easy it is to let the things of this world distract us from seeking after our God.  Our true enemy in all of this is Satan.

                                          

[God’s Story, Your Story] Max Lucado.  Copyright [Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2011]  Used by permission.