Don’t Believe the Hype

I was thinking about how the world was supposed to end in 2012 (according to the Mayan calendar– or someone’s interpretation of it). That didn’t happen. Obviously. The fact that you are reading this is fairly good evidence that the world did not in fact come to a screeching halt.

Today was supposed to be Snowpocalypse 2016. There was supposed to be all this ice and snow and sleet. The result? Not so much. Maybe a dusting of snow. There are a lot of people sitting at home feeling dumb with all their loaves of bread, gallons of milk, and heavy duty snow shovels sitting in their garages, going unused.

A lot of things get overhyped these days. I supposed when you have so many 24-hour news channels you have to fill them up with something.

One thing that can never be overhyped is the love of God in Jesus for you and me. That we can never make too much of.

The hard part comes in not in the reality of that love but in our acceptance of it. We’ve invested our trust into too many other people and things that have let us down and not delivered on their promises. Too many of us have broken hearts and broken lives as a result of misplaced trust.

The truth that I keep getting reminded of is that God’s love is genuine. It’s real. It’s unfailing, eternal, and unconditional. I can do nothing to make God love me less and nothing to make God love me more.

This may be Bible 101 to a lot of you. It may be kindergarten theology to some. I do think that at least one person needs the reminder and needs to see the words that God loves you just the way you are, before you’ve turned over a new leaf and before you’ve turned your life around. God loves you just as you are and He refuses to leave you where He found you. His goal and glory (which is your greatest good) is to see you become just like Jesus.

That’s the real deal.

 

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

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“It isn’t Narnia, you know,” sobbed Lucy. “It’s you. We shan’t meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you?”
“But you shall meet me, dear one,” said Aslan.
“Are -are you there too, Sir?” said Edmund.
“I am,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there” (C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader).

I’m now almost done with my favorite of all the Narnia books– The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. That means only two more to go after this one.

There’s so much to like in this book, but the best part is toward the end when they’re getting close to the end of the world, beyond which lies Aslan’s country. Spoiler alert.

The book reminds me that at some point, we have to say goodbye to the ones we love. That’s hard. But the key is in the perspective. That is, you focus on the time you had and the memories you made instead of the loss. Plus, God never takes anything away without giving something better in return. Usually, that something is God Himself. But I digress.

Even though I read these books through every year and I know I’ll read them again at some point in 2016, it still makes me a bit sad knowing that I’m nearing the end of these books.

I think my favorite character is that noble mouse Reepicheep. He’s the smallest of them all, yet he’s also the bravest and most daring. He’s the one who wants to head into the darkness and stay at Ramandu’s table for the adventure of it.

But I like Lucy, too. After all, I did name my cat after her.

 

December 23 . . . Two Days After My Supposed Last Day on Earth

It turns out that the Mayans were off a bit. More likely, the people who stay up late at night thinking about ancient Mayan calendars were off a bit.

The world didn’t end on December 21. There was no apocalypse. Nothing changed all that much.

There have been days when I’ve felt like my world was ending. Some days, I wished the world would end.

But today, I am thankful for another day to be alive and healthy and blessed. I realize more and more how each day is a gift, pure and simple. I don’t deserve it, I’m not entitled to it, and I’m not guaranteed the next one.

You wouldn’t know it sometimes by the way I gripe and complain about my slow internet or my lousy work hours. I’ve focused on what I don’t have for so long, it’s hard to retrain my thinking to what I do have.

We as a culture are obsessed with everything that we don’t have, everything we’re supposed to have, and how we can spend all our time and energy and money getting those things.

One of the most counter-cultural things anybody can do is to say, “No thanks, I have enough,” and be content. To be satisfied with what you have and not always striving for more.

So at least for today I am content. I have all my Christmas shopping done. I have things like food, clean water, shelter, transportation, and health that so many don’t have and work so hard to get.

I am blessed.

I still love what my pastor said. It goes like this. If God came to me today and said, “Greg, you’ve used up all your blessings I had for you and I have nothing left to give you for the rest of your life,” I could honestly say, “I’m good.” That’s contentment.

I’m not there yet, but I’m a whole lot closer than I used to be.

How about you?

It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

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According to the Mayan calendar, the world ends tomorrow. Or more accurately, according to some interpretations of the Mayan calendar, the world will end tomorrow.

I seriously doubt that. Or as the English might say, “Balderdash!”

I’m 98% certain that Friday, December 21, will be just like any other December 21 in recent history. The streets around the malls will be ridiculously crowded and the lines in the stores will be out into the parking lot. As with any other day, Nashvillians will be out in force, driving badly and generally ignoring most of the traffic rules and regulations (and stop signs and red lights, etc).

I remember the famous words that Jesus spoke once that people have also tended to ignore. He said, “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake.For you do not know when the time will come” (Mark 13:32).

No one knows. Not the Mayans. Not John Hagee. Not Pat Robertson. Not any of those TBN preachers. Not you or I or anyone. No one.

Jesus said, “Be ready.” Live every day like it were the last one and like Jesus could come back at any moment.

Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Don’t leave any conflict unresolved. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t leave words to loved ones unspoken, thinking you will have another day to get all these things done.

Write that letter. Send that email. Make that visit. Speak the words, “I love you,” as often as you can to those who need to hear it from you.

Yeah, these predictions about the end of the world make as much sense to me as the lyrics to that old REM song “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine).” I just know there’s a part in the song where everybody yells “Leonard Bernstein” for apparently no logical reason. We should all randomly do that tomorrow. For fun.