The King Has Come!

An angel appeared, swift in the night
A warrior tall and full of light
Said don’t be scared! For God will come
You’re son, Mary, He’s the one!

The family traveled to Joseph’s land
Bethlehem town in God’s own hand
A little stable which held the least
So they nestled with the friendly beasts

Newborn babe in manger slept
With Mom and Dad safe they kept
God came down to bring us near
Great joy to all the people here

All the while a star shone bright
And Shepherds all beheld the light
Angels sang behind lowly hills
He’s come! He’s come! You must be still!

The shepherd’s ran to see the One
And gasped when they saw Heaven’s son
Wise men traveled on camels far
All because that lovely star

A rescuer! They whisper soft
Child on high from Heaven’s loft
A king they say he’ll grow to be
One side of the Holy three

A palace? No a homeless man
Poor of spirit though not of plan
The blind will see, the lame will leap!
To rule with service, our hearts to keep

Sad will perish, hate will cease
All the world will know is peace
What fear of death we oft live by
But he says this! Death too will die!

Born to rags though really king
Heaven fell soft and earth did sing
His name decrees he’s God with us
A Prince of Peace, his sword is just

God came down as little child
Be careful though, this lion’s wild
The world will know his boastful fame
And all will bow at Jesus’ Name!

The world will know his boastful fame
And all will bow at Jesus’ Name!

You and me, will bow at Jesus’ Name!

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Post-life Superlatives

I have been thinking about heaven a lot lately. The unknown, to me, is very intriguing and I often have a lot of questions about things or ideas that I do not understand; which I’m sure you do as well. I am always left in wonder when someone says something like this: “You live, if you are lucky, for 80 or so years. The amount of time you spend alive compared to the amount of time that elapses after you die, makes our lives seem rather insignificant.” Your body will spend way more time dead than alive.

This is not meant to scare or depress, I just think it’s important to contemplate what will happen when you die. “I’m not scared to die; I’m a little bit scared of what comes after. Will I get the gold chariot; will I float through the sea?”

In my recent ruminations about life after death, I have frequently pondered this thought: What if after we die, we go into a room with other people from various walks of life and discuss what we thought about life on earth. What we liked, what we disliked, what the funniest moments were, what we regretted, and so forth and how that could inform our lives today.

I think I would say I enjoyed any moment of kindness that I extended to someone else or that someone extended to me. I think I would say I enjoyed moments when I was close to a woman – like driving with my arm around a girl I was dating or snuggled with a significant other on the couch watching a movie. I think I would say I enjoyed moments when I was creative, when I was bold, when I was giving, when I was thoughtful, when I was generous, when someone complimented me or I them and when I laughed until I cried with a group of friends.

I think anything I regretted would boil down to moments when I didn’t act on something I felt strongly in my heart.

So, as I was having these thoughts on a “death discussion panel,” another thought came to me. What if there are superlatives in heaven? You know what I mean when I say superlatives, right? Back in my high school (and most other American high schools), at the end of the year, people voted on who had the prettiest hair, who was the best couple, who was the class clown, who was going to be the most successful. But what if the “awards” were more meaningful? Like, ‘most likely to help a poor man get food’ or ‘most likely to stop what they are doing and help a single mother move,’ or ‘most likely to give away their money even when they had very little to give.’

I’m not sure how everyone who is going to heaven could get a specific award, but my point is this: what do you want people to say about you after you’re dead? What do you want your legacy or superlative to be? Do you want it to be something like, ‘brought the most joy to people with his music?’ How does that thought change the trajectory for your actions today?

I think looking forward to the end of one’s life can help illuminate how to live now. R. A. Dickey, who is a pitcher for the New York Mets, said in an interview that his life and faith is a process.  “God wants me to live the next five minutes well.” I believe we must think of our long term goals, what we want our legacy to be, where we stand on faith issues and have that mold the now and guide our hearts. My pastor says something like “the bigger or more powerful passions in our heart will always win out.”

For me, I think if I make loving God my number one passion then everything else that I love will filter through that and he will use my love of writing and music and laughter to bless others. But, if I place my love of music above all else, then my life will be about me: about becoming famous and selling the most records and making the most money. I will leave you with two questions: What is currently filling the number one position in your heart? And what do you want your legacy to be?

Worn Heaven?

bricks

The first question I want to pose is: Do things get worn or faded in Heaven? Regardless of what you believe, let us suppose for a moment that heaven is an actual place that exists after you die. A place that is perfect and free from pain, a place that is the ultimate reward for a toilsome life, the finish line to a marathon-type race. In this perfect place, which you have probably imagined at some point this week, the sky seems brighter, the colors more vibrant, the water more pure.

Will there be buildings that seem endlessly tall? Will you wear clothes made from unimaginable fabrics? Will you play instruments that never go out of tune?

In regards to my first question, will these tall buildings ever show signs of wear? Will the brick become weathered and show age? Will the clothes you wear become faded? Will you have to make or purchase new ones? Will the wood on your guitar become scratched from your fervent strumming?

The reason that I ask this question is because I like the wear of our things. I like it when my favorite hat becomes bleached by the sun, when my shoes get covered in mud and when there begins to be a hole in my guitar. I like these things because it shows me that I have lived. It shows me that I have traveled outside my home, that I have hiked in the woods and that I have practiced chords so frequently that I have worn a hole in my instrument.

These tattered, threadbare garments we wear each day tell of time passing, of growing old.

An Ebenezer in the bible is a tall grouping rocks erected in order to show something that God has done.  That way, when people pass by the makeshift statue, they can remember a moment when God moved in their life or in their community’s life.

I like to think of the worn and the faded somethings as little Ebenezers, reminding us of where we have been and how far we have come.

Will we grow wiser in heaven? Can we become smarter or do we have all the information when we get there? Will we be virtuosos on every instrument immediately? Or will we have to learn and practice like we do now?

I just heard a sermon on how God’s rewards for us are directly related to the work we did. The pastor explained that God’s rewards are like practicing and learning German tirelessly for years and years. And then going to Germany and being able to converse with locals and read their classic literature and write songs in their language.

I am not sure if things get worn in heaven. Things might never lose their luster or shine for all eternity, and I’m ok with that. Because I believe that we will still grow in heaven; only God might have a different way of showing us where we have been.

“We took the twine we used to use to tie up tight our tattered shoes twisted twigs and crooked cross a necklace for the deeply lost Builder with the broken bricks mother to the baby chicks you made this world to look so nice I wonder what the next one’s like?”  – mewithoutYou