Here is Your Epitaph

“He never went off subject.” —Journalist Tom Brokaw, of Billy Graham

No one had to ask what his subject was—when you heard the name Billy Graham you knew it was, without apology, Jesus.

Let me meddle a minute…

When others say your name, what do they think of? What do you aspire to be known for? Will it outlive you? Is it greater than you? More than that, what will you be remembered for? That’s the subject of your life.

Billy never went off subject—he knew that everything in life is less than Jesus except the people Jesus died to save. Do we? Like Billy, our subject is known by everyone around us, and it will be our epitaph.

—j

The World’s Best Leaders

“The leaders God chooses are often more broken than strong…more damaged than whole…more troubled than secure. God’s greatest leaders do not rise up from a bed of roses; they rise from beds of nails.” —Scott Sauls

Abraham, Moses, Jacob, Deborah, Gideon, Ehud, Joshua, David, Elijah, Peter, Paul, you.

There. Your excuses just evaporated.

Go give ’em Heaven.

—j

Dabbling with an Unsafe God

“…When the line pulls at your hand, when something breathes beside you in the darkness…it is always shocking to meet life where we thought we were alone. ‘Look out!’ we cry, ‘it’s alive’. And therefore this is the very point at which so many draw back—I would have done so myself if I could—and proceed no further with Christianity. An ‘impersonal God’—well and good. A subjective God of beauty, truth and goodness inside our own heads—better still. A formless life force surging through us—a vast power which we can tap—best of all. But God Himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite speed, the hunter, king, husband—that is quite another matter. There comes a moment when the children who have been playing burglars hush suddenly: was that a real footstep in the hall? There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that! Worse still, supposing He had found us?” —C.S. Lewis, Miracles, XI, Christianity and Religion

Believers want God, but deep inside prefer a safe God, a predictable God, a God who negotiates—who always arrives on time and will return when we expect Him to. But Aslan is not a tame lion, and He has been stalking us.

He is not of our making, but we are of His. He’ll never fit into our elaborate concepts or predictions of Him, for He ‘stands alone in the solitude of Himself’. No one can escape His relentless pursuit or His limitless love. And He has found you.

This is the greatest thing you will ever know, or the most terrifying. If it scares you, worship Him—He treed you to save you; if you are fearful in the darkness, worship all the more—He’s got you for good.

Awesome beyond words.

—j

The Mosquito in Your Room

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle [you know nothing about].” —Ian McLaren

We impact every person we meet—there’s no stopping it. When we’re indifferent, people feel it—and often learn it—from us. The same thing is true when we’re kind, compassion and loving—people feel it and learn it—from us. That’s how the world is changed—it’s how Jesus did it and it’s why His impact has traveled so far for so long so powerfully. Walking as He walked Him, even the smallest person has mighty impact. It’s just that big.

“If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room…” —Bette Reese

Give ’em Heaven.

—j

Why Does Jesus Love You?

“Jesus loves us not because we’re good, but because He’s Jesus.” —Pastor Kevin Green

We can’t escape this fact anymore than God can escape Himself. Jesus loves broken people like us because He does as He is, and for no other reason.

That is tremendous.

Rejoice.

—j

Minding the Pain

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.” —G.K Chesterton

God has called me to many things, and in light of the fact that I’m not getting any younger, I’m frequently asked how I do it. “Don’t you get tired?” “Where do you find the time?” “Doesn’t it hurt?” As he burned his finger with a smile while extinguishing a match, T.E. Lawerence quipped, “Of course it hurts—the trick is not minding the pain.” For us who follow Jesus, it’s more than not minding—it’s knowing—knowing that the difficulties of living God’s life on earth are grossly offset by the goodness and love others receive from Him because we were willing to take the pain for them to get it.

Go for it. He who called you is faithful and He is able.

—j

Applause and the Audience of One

Our reputation is never more important to us than the moment we see ourselves through the eyes of the one we most love. How we live after that moment is truth of our love…

“To follow Jesus is to pay the cost of discipleship, and then to die to ourselves, to our own interests, our own agendas and reputations. It is to pick up our crosses and count the cost of losing all that contradicts his will and his way—including our reputations before the world, and our standing with the people and in the communities that we once held dear. It is to live before one audience—the audience of One, and therefore to die to all other conflicting opinions and assessments. There is no room here for such contemporary ideas as “the looking-glass self”, and no consideration here for trivial contemporary obsessions such as one’s legacy.” —Os Guinness

The Audience of One is watching our play—may the applause we hear be His.

—j