The Most Dangerous Thing in the World

“Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers of love is Hell.” —C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

People need God’s love and He chose us to lavish it on them. But it isn’t safe—it breaks hearts and leaves scars—such love got Jesus killed. It’s not bottled up among safe friends and it can’t coexist with self-protection. “Love one another as I have loved you.” Now that’s risky.

Go make someone’s day—perhaps even that of your enemy.

—j

After You…

What will people remember you for? Even more, what have you done with your life that will outlast you? C.H. Spurgeon, the “prince of preachers”, put it like this…

“What pain to find your life-work to be a lot of wood, and hay, and stubble that will blaze furiously, and die out in ashes! You know what I mean: so much time spent in planning frivolous amusements for the people, so much talent expended in teaching that which is not the gospel, so much zeal consumed upon matters that do not concern eternal things, all this will burn. Beloved, do your Master’s work, win souls, preach Christ, expound your Bibles, pray men to be reconciled to God, plead with men to come to Christ. This kind of work will withstand the fire; and when the last great day shall dawn, this will remain to glory and honor!”

May all your deeds be fireproof.

—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

The Ruination of Man

Three apprentice devils were preparing to come to the earth to finish their apprenticeship. They first spent time talking to Satan about their plans to tempt and ruin men.
The first devil declared “I will tell men that there is no God”
Satan said to him, “That will not delude many, for they know there is a God”
The second devil boasted “I will tell men that there is no hell!”
Satan answered the second, “You will deceive no one that way. Men know even now that there is a hell for sin.”
The third devil thought for a moment, then said, “I will tell men that there is no hurry…”
Satan excitedly told the third “Go! and you will ruin men by the thousands!” (Adapted from William Barclay)

People are dying; Jesus is coming; Christians have eternity; the world doesn’t.

Give ’em heaven, while they still have time.

—j

“If Sinners Be Damned…”

Victorian preacher C.H. Spurgeon had a way of cutting through Christian excuses…

“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and un-prayed for.”

Some things are worth everything and every effort.

—j

(Painting, “Don’t Let Go” by Daniel Cordova)

“The Room”

A great story from a true saint—and young. I present it here with its official introduction. Long, and so worth the read…

Seventeen-year-old Brian Moore had only a short time to write something for a class. The subject was “what Heaven was like.” “I wowed ’em,” he later told his father, Bruce. “It’s a killer. It’s the bomb. It’s the best thing I ever wrote.” It also was the last. Brian’s parents had forgotten about the essay when a cousin found it while cleaning out his school locker. Brian Moore died May 27, 1997, the day after Memorial Day. He was driving home from a friend’s house when his car went off the road in and struck a utility pole. He emerged from the wreck unharmed but stepped on a downed power line and was electrocuted. The Moore’s have framed Brian’s essay and hung it among the family portraits in the living room…

The Room…”
In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features except for the one wall covered with small index card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endless in either direction, had very different headings.

As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read “Girls I have liked.” I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one. And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was.

This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn’t match. A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching.

A file named “Friends” was next to one marked “Friends I have betrayed.” The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird. “Books I Have Read,” “Lies I Have Told,” “Comfort I have Given,” “Jokes I Have Laughed at.” Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: “Things I’ve yelled at my brothers.” Others I couldn’t laugh at: “Things I Have Done in My Anger”, “Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath at My Parents.” I never ceased to be surprised by the contents.

Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped. I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my years to fill each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature.

When I pulled out the file marked “TV Shows I have watched ,” I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn’t found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of shows but more by the vast time I knew that file represented.

When I came to a file marked “Lustful Thoughts,” I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded. An almost animal rage broke on me. One thought dominated my mind: No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!” In insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn’t matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it.

Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh. And then I saw it.. The title bore “People I Have Shared the Gospel With.” The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand. And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that they hurt. They started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key. But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him.

No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus. I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn’t bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one? Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn’t anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn’t say a word. He just cried with me.

Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card. “No!” I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was “No, no,” as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn’t be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood. He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don’t think I’ll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, “It is finished.”

I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.

Blessings,
—j

Well Done, Guys

God wants heaven filled, and its radiant population continues to grow. Last Monday it gained Pastor Douglas Mark, known to me as “Dougie”. I knew him all of five hours on earth though it feels like we were lifelong friends. As he prepared for his graduation, he wrote some lyrics in his prayer diary, which were read to him as he stepped into glory…

‘Just think of stepping on shore—And finding it Heaven!
Of touching a hand—And finding it’s God’s!
Of breathing new air—And finding it celestial!
Of waking up in glory—And finding it Home!’

Welcome home, Dougie…and Jack…and Roger—faithful shepherds of God’s flock; servants of Jesus.

Well done, guys.

—j