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With events in the world flipping by our eyes like pages of a book being turned by the wind, it is perfectly natural to ponder our generation’s place in the cosmic chronology of things. Not only that, but it seems also that questions are constantly arising as to the timing of Jesus’ return as King and Judge as well as other mysteries of what we like to call “the end time.”

Although my opinion is that we are far closer to such things than we generally like to think, I am reminded of an occasion in which one of those questions arose in the Bible.

“…When they had come together, they asked Him, ‘Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6 ESV).

Consider it. Things had been skipping along pretty quickly, from the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry to His crucifixion and then His resurrection. It seems perfectly natural for Jesus’ disciples to wonder about “tying up all the loose ends” (as far as they were concerned).

But I note Jesus’ response to His disciples. It certainly wasn’t the kind of answer they were looking for. It wasn’t a “yes” or “no” but neither was it a rebuke for their having brought up the subject. He knew only too well the reasons for their asking it. Nevertheless, He established a mindset for them that would free them to hear next… something that they really did need to know.

“He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:7-8 ESV).

So the answer was in essence, “Maybe. Maybe not.” But whether He was imminently overhauling the rule of the world or delaying it for as long as they could reckon, all they needed to know was that He is in charge, that such appointed times were in God’s keeping, and that they need not worry about it. Instead, they could simply focus on the task at hand, which was to carry their eyewitness accounts of what Jesus had done and Who Jesus is to every corner of the world that their lives would carry them.

This passage in Acts 1:8 is a little different than the one in Matthew 28:19-20 which says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

This passage is what we call “the Great Commission”. It is a charge to His children to deliberately and intentionally lead people to place their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and to obey His teaching as Lord and Master. The passage is Acts 1:8 is not a charge, but an observation made by One Who sees what is to come with perfect clarity. It is a “prediction”, or rather, a “prophecy” regarding those disciples who physically heard those words from the Savior’s mouth as well as those who come in later generations who “hear” those words through the reading of His word.

In other words, you and I are a part of a generation raised up for such a time as this that we may be witnesses both of what Jesus has done in our lives and also of Who He is as both Lord and Savior, to every corner of the world that our lives will carry us.

This is an age in which there has been much said of “global thinking” and generally we tend to think that it is a recent concept. But God’s people, when awake and alert to His Spirit’s leading, have always been “global” in their thinking. Are you being a “witness” of Jesus’ love in your own “Jerusalem and Judea?” In other words, is your life a testimony to God’s presence, love, and lordship everywhere you are most at home? In your family? In your friendships? In your church?

And are you being a “witness” in your “Samaria?” At work? At school? In your civic organizations? All those places you frequently conduct the ongoing business of life?

If you feel that the answer is “yes” to the above, what about taking it further? Would you like to see just where God might lead you and what He might do through you if you’ll give Him the chance to do it? There is a whole world out there still in desperate need of the hope that Jesus Christ offers. If He has really made a difference in yours, whose life could He make a difference in through yours? If He really is your Savior and Lord, to whom could you be a witness that their destiny also might be changed from one of death to that of life?

Don’t be afraid that you’re being too forward by believing that God could use you to do such a thing. You’re already set forward. Remember that He says, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9 ESV).

And don’t be afraid of not knowing enough or of being ineffectual. God has not called you to run in either your own strength or your own wisdom. Instead, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses… to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

If you’re a Christian, then look for opportunities to grow and serve in a local Christian church. Be hungry for more of God in your life. Be thirsty for His Word. Be eager for His Spirit to open doors for you to share and to make a difference in every relationship you have.

If you are not a Christian, then consider the price of not coming to Christ. Consider the heartbreaking loss of losing forever the opportunity to know the joy of knowing God should your life end without having made peace with Him. But also consider the diminished joy of a life that continually puts on hold God’s invitation to salvation even if you think that “one day” you’ll get right with God. Don’t let the future that could be yours become a collection of sad “might-have-beens” by putting off receiving His gift of salvation now. Simply confess your need for Him and that He died because of your sin. Accept in faith that God will grant you His gift of forgiveness and grace. And then, if you have really done that, begin to let Him live His life through you in the company of other, forgiven Believers. And then just watch where God will take you and see how God will bless you!

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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The Son is shining in the Kingdom of Ever After. A rainbow, the sign of divine promise, perpetually encircles His throne as His face radiates a holy light like an arc of lightning that never fades. On the crystalline plain about Him stand countless legions of knights in shining armor, men and women devoted to their King who stand with glittering swords raised high and polished shields mirroring the glorious radiance poured down upon them. Here sits the Eternal Victor, having established His plans and purposes before time even began, accomplishing a salvation so mighty that time cannot contain it (“… The Lamb Who was slain from before the creation of the world….” From Revelations 13:8).

From Him come the weapons and armor that are borne by His children as well as the strength to wield them in the conflict that even now wages about us. For dragons and giants walk the land indeed, devouring and enslaving the descendants of Adam with flaming whips, venomous darts, and poison apples. Setting up their petty domains in defiance of the great and glorious King, they lash out in rebellion against Him, spreading the insurgency of the great Serpent himself. To the fray, the great King has called His children, hidden heroes with courage that comes from the wellspring of fellowship with God.

Ever AfterCan all of this be merely a fairy tale? No. It’s the real thing. The battle wages around us even now. But who has eyes to see it? And who has ears to hear it? Here we are, encased in mortal flesh, wearing our everyday clothes, doing our everyday things. Yet, if one has been born again, he dwells at once in both worlds, a foot in the world of everyday happenings and one in the Kingdom of Ever After!

Let us shake off then the blindness that shields from our eyes the epic tale into which is written the story of our lives! Let us turn our ears to the clarion call of our great Captain as He rallies us to His banner of His love!

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in Whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14 ESV).

Our king invites us to join in the holy quest of seeking out slaves who are enthralled by the deceits of the enemy, imprisoned by snares of pride and selfishness. He sends us out to set free the forlorn captives of gruesome giants of despair, awful ogres of anger and bitterness, and devious dragons of fear. Just think! In the adventure before us are treasures of love, joy, and peace just waiting to be unearthed by faithful service to our God! And while we may all too easily dismiss such ideas as being fantastical notions of an overactive imagination, take heed that this is a reality that is more fantastic than fantasy!

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6: 12 ESV).

So clean the rust from your sword! Put on your armor! Polish your shield! One cannot do battle without weapons and one who attempts combat without armor is certainly doomed to be wounded.

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil…. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” (Ephesians 6:11, 14-17 ESV).

Let us take up the cause for which our Savior, the greatest of all heroes, gave His life! Let us embrace the power bequeathed to us that also raised Him from the dead! Let us bear the mantle of His Holy Spirit, which both marks us as God’s own (see Ephesians 1:13) and equips us for the quest!

Jesus read to everyone in the synagogue, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor….” (Luke 4:18-19 ESV).

And let us remember that for those who have been made God’s own children through faith in Jesus Christ, there is an eternal destiny of joy, peace, and healing. That is truly the land wherein we will live happily ever after!

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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Once, when reading the story of a burglary in a small community similar to our own, I began to think of what can happen for a person who has no sense of God’s presence in his life. A person who can storm into a house, bully a sick and elderly person or a terrified child (as it was in that particular story), can hardly be said to really believe that a good God exists or that He is attentive to His creation.

Consider the depths to which a person can sink when he or she believes that there are no consequences for his or her actions or thinks that “no one will ever know”! What holds such a person back? The Bible says in Psalm 14:1 that “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, their deeds are vile….” The result of a contemptuous disregard for God is corruption and deeds reeking of the stench of vileness! If there is no belief in God, the human heart cannot help but sink into the swirling maelstrom of selfishness and evil.

Of course, we must have the right kind of “belief”, too. Belief in a harsh, tyrannical deity can leave us vainly trying to “perform” for His favor or trying to earn a salvation, the price of which cannot be met by human effort. That God is sadistically “just waiting for a chance to toss you into hell” is not a very encouraging thought!

On the other hand, it’s almost as bad to believe in either a sugary, wishy-washy God who’s just too big a “pushover” to ever confront us for our being “naughty” or a God who’s nearsighted and just a bit deaf, without His glasses or batteries for His hearing aid. If this last notion is what we subconsciously believe about God, we’ll feel as though we can simply do anything we please confident in thinking that “God isn’t ‘man enough’ to stop me”.

In response to such reoccurring “dumb ideas about God”, the Bible announces two equally vital attributes of the Lord that both complement and uphold the other. The first is that God is perfectly righteous and, consequently, judges sin. Consider the fierce but encouraging words in Proverbs 24:19-20, “Fret not yourself because of evildoers, and be not envious of the wicked, for the evil man has no future; the lamp of the wicked will be put out.”

“No future hope?” Does it really mean that one’s wickedness can result in his being “snuffed out?” Well, yes. It means exactly this if his wickedness runs to its ultimate and logical conclusion. It is a fatal error to not realize that God takes human wickedness seriously. “The Righteous One observes the house of the wicked; He throws the wicked down to ruin” (Proverbs 21:12 ESV).

But sadly, as crime and immorality escalate, it is abundantly clear that we are collectively failing to realize this truth. The evidence isn’t only in the crime in one’s neighborhood. It is also evidenced every time we nonchalantly shrug off integrity in the workplace, when we’re lazy in the care of the health and well-being of our families, or when we turn away those in genuine need though they cry out for help.

Consequently, the only response that one can expect from a perfectly righteous and holy God is a perfectly righteous and holy judgment.

The second attribute then is our only hope. For though our individual and collective rebellions earn us a wage of judgment, He lays before our feet a season of grace, a window of opportunity to turn from our own way and follow Him. “Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread and do not call upon the LORD?” (Psalm 14:4 ESV).

“Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your unplowed ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that He may come and rain righteousness upon you.” - Hosea 10:12

“Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your unplowed ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that He may come and rain righteousness upon you.” – Hosea 10:12

What should we do in this short but wonderful era in which we might choose to turn to Him? Our response should be what is said in Hosea 10:12, “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your unplowed ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that He may come and rain righteousness upon you.”

Such grace is not cheap: it cost God His very best so that the shower of His righteousness might completely cleanse the horror of our sin. God’s very best was the sending of His Son to receive upon His own body His Father’s judgment of human wickedness. May we individually and as a people respond to such an offer of grace by turning from that which will only drown us in destruction to that which offers us life beyond the limits of our imagination.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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It happens at some point for most parents, that harrowing moment when a child presumed to be safe and sound is not where he or she is expected to be. A mother will turn and see an empty place where a daughter should have been. A father will “count heads” and come up one son short. Worry sets in, panic is unleashed, and all the fear that one’s imagination can conjure up is set ablaze.

It even happened to Mary and Joseph, the mother and step-father of Jesus our Lord, as they were returning home from their annual visit to Jerusalem for the Passover (see Luke 2:41-49). Thinking that Jesus was with others in their group of travelers, they went a whole day before realizing that He just was not with them. They did not actually find Him until three whole days had passed, after searching for Him throughout the city and discovering that He had been at the Temple the whole time. It is clear that they were terrified that they had lost Him.

Families are like that. They are endowed with a sense of interconnectedness and responsibility for one another that leaves members feeling incomplete and even wounded when one or more of their family is missing.

Even when children grow up and become adults, the connectedness and need for one another does not cease, but just becomes more abstract and complex as they learn to still be a family even if and when miles and circumstances separate them from other family members and prevent them from physical closeness.

Of course, evil in the forms of selfish attitudes, bitterness, and unforgiveness can tear and even destroy the fragile fabric that binds us to one another. But we are nonetheless wired in such a way as to be pained by such voids that are formed when a loved one goes missing.

This is true of the Family of God as well. If you are brought into a relationship with God by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ, then you are like the lost sheep of which Jesus spoke in Luke 15:3-7. You are brought not only into a “fold”, but also a “family in which no one else can possibly take your place. You are of unique worth and purpose to the One Who has saved you and placed you in His family.

If you are not in daily fellowship with Jesus, then there is an empty place in Jesus’ heart.

If you are not in daily fellowship with Jesus, then there is an empty place in Jesus’ heart.

In other words, if you are not in daily fellowship with Jesus, then there is an empty place, so to speak, in Jesus’ heart. The absence of your fellowship wounds Him. Not only that, but there is a vacuum created in the Family of God as well.

The Father has created you and me to be dependent upon each other. Correspondingly, He has gifted us so that we complement one another as we both individually and corporately walk with Him through life. If you give up attending a Bible-teaching and Holy Spirit-led church, then you are forfeiting the blessings of support and encouragement that God gives to His children through the Church. Worse yet is the fact that the biggest and best revelations of God at work in your life are always in the context of His Body, meant to be a blessing to all His Children and not just for individual Believers. Demonstrations of God at work in the world are vital to those who are lost around us. Our obedience to Christ in our fellowship with each other gives testimony to the fact that we do indeed belong to Him. Our love for one another is the biggest and best means we have to validate the truth of what we share in the Gospel of Christ.

“As I have loved you,” said Jesus, “you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 14:34b-35 ESV).

Basically, this means that the fruitful sharing of the Gospel is intimately tied to our relating to each other as family. If we truly share the heart of Christ, then we deeply desire to proclaim the Gospel to the world around us so that the hope that we have in the Son of God can be realized in the experience of those who do not yet know Him. And if we truly share the heart of Christ and long to see the “one lost sheep come into the fold and family of God, then we desire the fellowship of His people.

“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many… God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose… that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 18, 24b, 25-27 ESV).

If you have been missing from the fellowship of your church family, then make it your priority to return so that both you and they may be more deeply blessed by God and that the pain and hurt created by your absence might be healed by the hand of God.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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Living with the conviction that God’s Word is as true and relevant today as it ever has been is not an easy task, considering that the tides of our culture break upon the cliffs of faith in Christ like a typhoon. Every day we find new cases-in-point, as it were, when we find government officials, iconic pop culture stars, or supposed “academics” who snidely observe that their views on ethics and morality are “evolving”. They suppose that they are using a buzzword that suggests that they have somehow transcended to a higher plane than “lesser beings” who continue to cling to the Bible.

Such disdain for reverent regard for the holy Word of God is found practically in every sphere of life; it can even be found in many churches wherein it is deemed appropriate to abandon a clear confidence in the authority of the Bible in the interest of what Satan likes to call “effective cultural relevance”.

Some will look on the moral plummet of our country and simply shake their heads in helplessness and continue to live life in “survival mode”. Some say our country is “going to hell”” and are ready to wash their hands of everything except of the joy of criticizing others. Perhaps there are a few who take on a violent attitude of retaliation and subsequently plot bombings and shootings as if these things can solve the effects of the spiritual crisis that besets us.

But hope for a return to greatness for America is not found in these things, but rather in what God can do through His people as they are renewed and the power of God surges again through their obedient lives. And the spiritual renewal and the resurgence of holiness that God’s people today desperately need is not in “fighting fire with fire” but in humbly turning from worldly thinking and living and returning to genuine relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Repentance, faith, holiness, love, and obedience is what God expects of us today – all things that God has graciously declared to us through the Bible so that we might yet return to Him.

hope for a return to greatness for America is found in nothing but what God can do through His people as they are renewed and the power of God surges again through their obedient lives.

Hope for a return to greatness for America is found in nothing but what God can do through His people as they are renewed and the power of God surges again through their obedient lives.

Even this presidential election is insufficient in turning our country around and the idea that it can insults God, hindering Him in the transforming work that only His Spirit can do if such activism is not the fruit of following God’s lordship in our lives. The answer to the need of America is found only in Jesus Christ in every area, from disintegrating families to crime, from economic collapse to unemployment, from illegal immigration to lack of healthcare, from drugs to national security and terrorism.

Please hear me carefully: while how we vote (and for whom we vote) is important, it is only important (in a good way) if it truly is the act of worship of a truly humble and God-seeking heart. And by what measure can we hope to know if that kind of heart is the heart beating within our chests? By how we seek to hear from God through His Word and then what we do with what He has said to us.

Our need is for the power of God’s saving grace to enter into our individual lives so that it may then flow into those institutions that reflect the uniting of all who call themselves Americans. Whether they call themselves leaders or simply see themselves as citizens, all need to come to Christ Jesus and none can truly come to Him except by coming to Him in faith and repentance. Such faith and repentance is only truly evidenced in how we listen to the words He has spoken through His Word, the Bible.

And if there has ever been a word that God Himself would speak to Christians in America today, it is most certainly this word:

“If My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked way, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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The world wrestles with its understanding of why Christians feel compelled to do the good deeds that they do.  It is the assumption of some, for example, that Christians “do good” and “shun evil” in order to attain some sort of moral or spiritual sense of superiority over others.  And there are some who suppose that an “agenda of good deeds” is the Christian way of securing for themselves power, position, and wealth. 

Sadly, I cannot say that there are no wolves masquerading as sheep out there in “Christendom”.  Nor can I deny that there are those who claim to be Christian, yet wear it as a badge or label simply because it is expedient for their personal ambitions (political, social, material, etc.). 

But setting aside such spiritual thuggery, the world might “condescend” to acknowledge that perhaps some Christians mean well (even if it is merely out of naivety or superstition).  But even if it does so, it tends to be under the impression that sincere Believes do their good deeds to either earn God’s forgiveness and thereby escape hell, or to earn God’s favor and, consequently, reap blessings (material, physical, relational, and so on). 

In regard to the first misconception, that good deeds are done to earn a salvation from everlasting torment, I have found myself perturbed every time that I have watched the movie “The African Queen” with Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart.  In it, Hepburn’s character, “Rosie”, is a missionary to Africa.  As conflict grows with imperial Germans during World War I, Rosie believes that she and “Charlie” (Bogart’s character) are about to die, leaving this world for their eternal destiny.  The prayer is interesting because it reveals what was, in the mid-twentieth Century, the understanding of Hollywood of what Christians believe about God and the so-called salvation that brought Rosie and her brother to preach in Africa.  It is a salvation based on the good deeds one does to appease an angry and petulant God.  Of course, the entertainment industry’s opinion toward Christianity and its message is far less benevolent than what it once was.   

good-deeds

Salvation that is earned by doing good deeds is not the Gospel message.

But a salvation that is earned by doing good deeds (or by “eschewing evil”) is not the Gospel message.  The message of the Gospel is that sinners, people who have not kept God’s Law (in either deed or in thought) and are therefore under God’s judgment, are granted forgiveness (and, subsequently, salvation) through faith (believing, receiving, and confessing) in Jesus Christ, His death, and resurrection.  To not put too fine a point on it, salvation is not something one earns. 

The second misconception, that Believers can earn God’s favor Who will then reward them because He is pleased, is one with which even Believers will wrestle. 

It is true that God is pleased with a man or woman who seeks to live a life that is pleasing to Him.  It is even true that if we obey and serve Him that we are living lives that are aligned with His will and are therefore “positioned” best to be blessed. 

However, suffering and deprivation do not necessarily indicate a life with which God is displeased (just as wealth, success, and popularity do not mean that God favors the one who is enjoying them). 

It could be that a need in someone’s life is the arena in which God intends to bring a healing or some sort of miraculous intervention to demonstrate His loving power.  It could be that a need is the “mission field” to which God sends His loving provision as He works through the lives of Christians to address that need.  Or it could be that a need is actually a personal wilderness to which God brings His loving presence.  This last kind of circumstance isolates the afflicted and teaches him or her the awesome lesson of the sufficiency of Christ. 

“…A thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:7b-10 ESV). 

After two thousand years, one would like to believe that the misconceptions with which we as Believers contend would long ago have been laid to rest.  It seems to me that a couple of millennia should more than suffice in convincing us that the real wonder of the Christian experience is not the blessings of God showering down upon us, but rather the Blesser Himself Who has on His heart the priority of real and vital relationship with each of us. 

And consider the life that merely loves God for what He does for us.  As long as one loves God merely for what He does, he will always be enslaved to a “religion of doing”.  He’ll continuously strive to live out a formula that prompts God into giving him what he wants, when he wants it.  Such a formula kind of faith is incapable of producing for him the lasting fulfillment that God intends for His children since God intends for Himself to be the answer to the heart’s greatest cravings, namely love, forgiveness, and the security of acceptance that we are generously granted through the sacrifice of Jesus, the Son of God. 

Happily, as God works in you and me to help us to love Him for Who He truly is, we will learn that our righteousness flows from what He is inside of us.  In the end, it is only His life spent for us, His life within us, and His life giving birth through us to kindness, sacrifice, joy, and a living message of hope that brings about a practical application of true goodness in our lives and in the physical world around us. 

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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Summer nears its end with a collage of sights, sounds, and sensations that flood the experience. The lush green of late summer (when it hasn’t been a drought year) is unlike that of any other time of year; flowers gardens are glowing and bugs are buzzing with their busy, end-of-summer drone.

Of course, bugs are not the only things buzzing about. The yearly phenomenon of fall sports also starts afresh with the energy and zest that those who are bored with summer enthusiastically embrace. As football practice and fall soccer in particular prepare to get underway, children and their parents (who are often much more passionate about the games than are their kids) will just in a few short weeks once again line the bleachers to cheer and jeer with passion their way through the season.

Passion… a word so riddled with various meanings that it can be used almost as a dirty word and yet signifies that remarkable quality by which we summon up untapped energies, reorient our minds with new dreams and ambitions and then begin the whole-hearted pursuit of our heart’s desire.

Passion can be an amazing thing; amazingly fruitful when it rockets us towards helpful and fruitful goals; amazingly destructive and dangerous when it drags us into the pits of lust, greed and proud ambition.

Christians must continually guard their own hearts in this regard. It is easy for our eyes to be drawn by the activity of “winning teams” and the overly-inflated luster of “beating out” other kids (by which we determine that our own children are superior to others).

In recent years, it has repeatedly occurred that fans of sports react to losing (or winning) by resorting to extreme violence and destruction. Nothing new I suppose, but I wonder sometimes if it has been escalating, especially when I hear more and more incidents of parents assaulting other parents at their children’s sports events. What is wrong with us that we would let it get that far?

And it should be clear too that this isn’t really about sports. Playing sports is a great source of exercise, fun and excitement, the learning of teamwork, and an opportunity to develop initiative. But, although athletic events are sometimes an obvious forum in which some folks make spectacles of their misplaced passions, this is really about anything that supplants God’s place of preeminence as Lord of our lives. Things like career achievement, financial affluence, physical ecstasy, and social approval (to name only a few) too easily and too often become our hearts’ desires.

Misplaced passions always reap bitter harvests though. Whether we’re talking about getting swallowed up by the lightning-fast pace of the corporate world, keeping up with the Joneses right on into Chapter 11, chemical addictions or STDs or even co-dependent relationships that repeatedly fail and leave us heart-broken, whatever we allow to come before God comes to nothing in the end. This is why it is time right now to seek after God. This is why it is imperative that we begin to passionately pursue the most important thing of all before the setting of another sun.

“Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all My purpose’” (Isaiah 46:8-10a ESV).

Are we willing to live with the “end in mind?” I hope so. It’s a shame to think that we might pursue all our own purposes, not believing perhaps, that only His purposes and plans will last for eternity.

“The path of the righteous is level; You make level the way of the righteous. In the path of Your judgments, O LORD, we wait for You; Your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul. My soul yearns for You in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks You” (Isaiah 26:7-9a ESV).

 

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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