Ready or Not

About a week ago I read this article about the possibility of another larger volcano eruption in Iceland and there is one phrase that just kind of stuck in my head.  It’s stuck in the midst of these final words of the article,

There are no clear answers, however, and even fewer predictions about what the future may hold. Volcano eruptions, like earthquakes, are difficult to predict.

“Katla can start tomorrow or in 100 years, you don’t know,” said Palsson. “All we can do is be ready.”

“all we can do is be ready”

I don’t know what prompted this, but when I read that phrase I immediately remembered something Jesus said,

You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Luke 12:50 NIV)

One of the things I found funny before I was a Christian, and even today,  is how in some church circles there is so much emphasis placed on WHEN Jesus is going to return.  Some thought Y2K was the big signal (you remember that?), some thought the Gulf War was going to be the trigger.  Now, we have some even saying that Jesus return may be in 2012 because of all the talk of that being the year the Mayan calendar ends.  And don’t get me started on the pre-trib, mid-trib, and post-trib discussion.

Listen to me.  Jesus NEVER once urged his followers to try to figure out when he would be returning.  He just spent time telling them He WOULD be COMING.

He said, I WILL come again.

He said, it WILL happen when you LEAST EXPECT it.

He told them numerous times, and wanted his followers to get it, BE READY!

Now, honestly, I AM  fascinated by the fulfillment of biblical prophecy that has happened in the world over the years.  I even have a few “end times” books on my bookshelves and yes I even have a particular belief on when Jesus will return in relation to the tribulation.  But for me the MOST IMPORTANT thing is that Christ IS returning and we are to live our lives in a READINESS for his return.  What does that mean?  That means,

  • I should always be looking for the opportunities to tell people about Jesus and the gospel.
  • I should be keeping short accounts.
  • I should be focusing on the things that really matter in life (and finding out from God what those things are).
  • I should enjoy today that He has blessed me with and not worry about tomorrow.
  • For that matter, realize that there is always going to be a tomorrow – and tomorrow could be the day He returns.
  • I should be ANTICIPATING Christ’s return.  Honestly, I know that His return will be INCREDIBLE and I’m not frightened by it one bit.  I will confess, there are days I wish He would move a little quicker….kind of like when my kids ask from the back seat, “Dad are we there yet?”
  • I should be sobered by the realization that there are many loved ones in my life WHO AREN’T READY for his return – what am I going to do about that?
  • I should be thinking about how I invest my resources, wisely of course, BUT are my investments helping to advance the Kingdom of God?

I’m sure there’s other things some of you could come up with.  How about you? Are you ready?

[image from flickr]

Catalyst Day One – Francis Chan

This entry is part 5 of 9 in the series Catalyst 2009
It's all about Jesus
If you do a cursory check through the various blog posts on Catalyst you will find very little said about Francis Chan‘s session that wrapped up day one of Catalyst.  I find that odd because I found his session to be one of the most powerful of the day.  Although Francis Chan has become a really well known leader because of his book Crazy Love, he didn’t spend the time this session introducing any new stuff or great leadership nuggets.  Instead he lead the Catalyst group (and with his leading you really felt a part of the group) in a time of communion and centering on Christ.  It was simply powerful.  Here are three things that stood out from this time for me.

Francis just radiated joy…

There was no escaping the incredible joy and happiness evident in his speech and his face.   As he shared you could witness one who’s life has been so saturated in the presence of God that it spills out of him.  His joy is contagious.

“Jesus, it’s all about Jesus.”

Sure, it’s been said, and we already know it but there was a Holy Spirit, joy-filled, alive serious powerful humility behind the way Francis Chan said it.  It was good to be reminded after a day of intense teaching and challenging moments that it IS all about Jesus!  We must never forget that everything we do as leaders, everything we say as Christians, everything we believe in, everything we hope for is all about Jesus.

“The presence of the Almighty God is in this room right now, that is so intense. Just stop and think about it.”

As Francis said these words there was a Holy quiet that descended upon the room.  A quiet brought on by the recognition of the one we serve being there amongst us.  It is so easy in big events like this to talk about God, to talk about ministry, to talk about leadership, to even say that we do what we do because of the Father’s call, the Son saving us, and the Holy Spirit’s enabling power but then forget that He is present with us.  I did stop and think about it.  The awe in that moment was palpable.

When I got back to my room after that session there was the afterglow of a Holy moment and I had to just spend time talking with my Father before heading off to bed.  The intimacy of the moment was incredible!  I know you probably won’t ever read this Francis, but thank you for allowing Jesus to lead us through you in such an incredible unforgettable moment.

(picture above from bemky)

Undoing Discouragement

In his article, “Resist Discouragement“, Rick Warren rates discouragement as being the second greatest enemy of fulfilling your life mission (first was procrastination). I agree with Rick that there’s very little that puts a damper on the accomplishment of activity in your life more than the oppressing weight of discouragement. I’m sure my readers will agree as well – when things don’t go the way you thought they would, when people pick apart your “grand ideas” or when illness prevents you from doing what you want to do the resulting discouragement can not only put a halt to any progress you’ve made in your dream, mission, or idea but can also create a cycle of second-guessing and apathy that hinder any future activity.

So what to do about discouragement? We all suffer it from time to time – how do we undo it? Well, I agree with the start that Rick Warren suggests. It comes from recognizing that discouragement is a choice. It’s a choice that occurs when something contrary to what we expect, or opposition to where we’re going disrupts our plans and we choose to be discouraged because of it. The truth is – nothing ever goes hunky-dory, there will always be someone opposing you, or a wrench of some sort thrown into the plans we make (sometimes little wrenches, sometimes wrenches the size of buses!). We have no control over those things – what we do have control over is what we think about such things…

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable?if anything is excellent or praiseworthy?think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me?put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:7-9 (NIV)

The key is to dwell on Christ.? When you get discouraged, remind yourself that no matter how bad things get, or how awry plans go – you can find peace and comfort in the fact that Jesus won’t abandon you.? More often than not it’s in the midst of those things that could bring discouragement that we can find new direction, purpose, and vigor as we surrender to the thought that He is ultimately in control.? Don’t fret, pray.? Affect the things you can change and leave the things? you can’t in His hands.

So, an important element in undoing discouragement is to not dwell on the things that discourage us but instead dwell on Christ – but another help would be to include people who are encouragers in your relationships. In other words surround yourself with people who encourage you.? This takes work. It’s very easy to find people who will tear you down, are ambivalent, or drain you but not so easy to build relationships with those who will be there when you’re discouraged.? The key word in that sentence is build.? These kinds of relationships only come with an investment of time. This means that sometimes you may need to be the encourager in someone else’s life.

Needless to say, I believe discouragement can be undone.? It is a choice.? Be encouraged!