Open up!

From “The Lizard Lounge” Series on Clay

Below is the next installment about do-it-yourselfing I’m calling “The Lizard Lounge Series on Clay.” Here is a link to the first one, Old Jockey Shorts, if you’re just tuning in.

Who knew my earthly home could teach me so much about the journey toward my heavenly one…?

• • •

Sliding glass patios doors – who thought these marvels of engineering up? (“marvels of engineering” – I jest.) If you have sliding doors and love them, then just stop reading right now. It’s about to get ugly.

When I moved into the Lizard Lounge, sliding glass doors were the primary method of egress from the kitchen to the back porch and, subsequently, to the carport, where the groceries typically ended their journey from the store. Now reverse that process – trunk, groceries, back porch, kitchen via heavy, stubborn sliding glass doors – and therein lies the rub. Ever try to open a heavy, stubborn sliding door with hands full of grocery bags and a watermelon? Can’t be done – at least not without cussin’.

Poor sliding door – and poor anybody who tried to open and close it. And no amount of slicky stuff squirted or sprayed in the sliding track made that chore any easier, either – all that goop just tended to gather a lot of fuzz and dirt and get all gloppy and taunt me when I tried to vacuum it out. (I used to blame the dogs for all the lint and wads of fur in the house, but now that they’re both gone and there are no fewer of those golf ball-sized balls of fluff, I realize it was me all along, with my Sasquatch-ian propensity for hirsutism. I’ll have to apologize to Rosie and Hardy when I see them in Heaven… “Kids, it was daddy – he was the one shedding.”)

And now for the rest of the story…

It’s real

From the CLAY “Story” Series

The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4 NIV

In Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth (4:4), written about 20 years after Jesus died, he warned them about unbelievers being so blinded by Satan that they were unable – or unwilling – to believe the gospel of Christ. It seems little or nothing has changed since then and the “god of this age” is no less busy today – if anything, he’s had almost 2000 years since Jesus’ message of salvation to learn what makes us tick; what will give us a false sense that all we need is ourselves; what will keep unbelievers as…unbelievers.

Even when we encounter an unsettling brush with reality…

• • •

“More coffee, hon?” Erin stuck her head through the door from the kitchen to the dining room where her husband Ryan sat reading his Bible at the table.

“Hmm? Oh, yea – thanks, sweetie.”

She topped off his cup. “Whatcha reading there?” There was that cheery tone in her voice she had begun using when she wanted to feign interest in his new life.

“First Thessalonians. My mid-week Bible group is studying Paul’s letters.”

“Yea? Sounds like fun.” She turned to take the coffee pot back to the kitchen.

And now for the rest of the story…

Risk Free

I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day. 2 Timothy 1:12

I just read an article on the various infamous circumstances for which each of our fifty nifty United States is known, based on statistics taken from America’s Health Rankings and the U.S. Census. As it turns out, we’re a strange and wondrous lot…

  • Coloradans use the most cocaine. (almost 4% of the population – the phrase “Rocky Mountain High” comes to mind…)
  • The good folks of Maine have the lowest average SAT scores, garnering them the prize for dumbest state.
  • Alaska has the highest suicide rate. (Apparently all that ice and snow eventually takes its toll.)
  • California has the most air pollution. (quelle surprise)
  • Based on the high number of auto accidents, Massachusetts boasts the worst drivers in the U.S.
  • North Dakotans rank dead last in ugliest residents. (I’m doubtful this statistic comes from the U.S. Census. I mean, what kind of census question would lead the head of the household to avow that, “Yea, we’re all ugly, including the kids – especially little Henry.”)
  • Wisconsans have the highest rate of binge drinking – almost a quarter of the population. (Thanks, Miller Brewing Company.)
  • This one surprised me: Utahns have the highest rate of online porn subscriptions. (Say it ain’t so.)

In my state, however, we have the dubious honor of being known for the highest rate of identity theft.

I’ve already faked my Facebook profile with gibberish and silly information that would be useless to a would-be ID thief and I can spot a phishing scam a mile away, but learning this statistic makes me want to totally lock up my computer and wallet in a safe and just keep rolls of quarters in my pockets to buy stuff and carry a note from my mother for identification. (“Yes, that’s him – kind of tall with those funny glasses.”)

Data breaches resulting in personal information stolen from retail and e-tail transactions are becoming a fairly common occurrence. The institutions we assume will guard the information we’ve entrusted to them can no longer promise to do so with any degree of dependability.

Other than advising you to cut up all your credit cards and bury your money in the back yard, I have no words of wisdom – at least not when it comes to safeguarding your financial well-being.

But your spiritual well-being? Now that’s another matter. I can soundly report that the Bible is filled with words of wisdom for safeguarding that. Take Paul’s second letter to Timothy (1:12):

I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.

The thing that Paul and I (and hopefully you) have entrusted is our eternal salvation; and the “whom” and “Him” we’re trusting to guard it is God. And “that day”? The one when we finally meet Him face to face, free from this life and living forever in His glorious presence in the place He’s prepared for us.

And just to add a little extra security, in 2 Corinthians 1:22 Paul tells us that, when we become followers of Jesus, God puts…

…his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

So we place our trust in God to safeguard us until He’s ready to bring us home and He places the indwelling Holy Spirit in us as a sort of “down payment.”

Sweet! It’s the only totally risk-free situation I’ve ever been involved in.

Paul was convinced he could believe everything God revealed to him – and a quick thumb through the New Testament reveals that God revealed a lot to Paul. God made it known that He is truth; that Jesus taught truth; and that the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth. That’s truthiness of the most divine magnitude.

In my personal experience, God has proven time and again that He is infinitely worthy of my trust; you only have to read a few posts on this blog to get that.

But the thing I’m learning – learning recently, actually – is that it’s important for me not to pin my hopes on anyone else. God is the only one I can trust to never fail me. It’s so tempting for us to hang our hat on someone besides the Lord – a church leader, for example, or a trusted Christian friend or family member. The Lord puts these people in our lives for us to fellowship and be in community with; and soon we learn to value and trust their walk with Him. And that’s good – we should be able to trust our Christian brothers and sisters.

But even those dear to us who lead Godly lives and preach the truth and lead us in amazing worship are still just people – fallen people, sinners saved by grace, individuals prone to struggles with pride and “issues” and human passions, folks who sometimes make less than perfect choices, guys (and girls) who put their pants on one leg at a time.

As important as they are as members of our “body of believers” posse, we can’t be thrown if they let us down. They aren’t who we should be pinning our hopes on anyway. As we learned from Isaiah 40:31:

Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.

The Lord – not a pastor, preacher, teacher, worship leader, friend, Roman, countryman – just in the Lord. He will never fail us. (And I don’t think He even wears pants.)

And you can rest assured that, if you put your hopes in God to guard what you’ve entrusted to Him, it’ll be in good hands – the very hands that created the universe. In John chapter 10 Jesus tells us that both He and God have a firm grip on anyone who belongs to them. Of Himself, He says…

“…no one can snatch them out of my hand.” (v. 28)

Of God He says…

“…no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” (v. 29)

No one. Go ahead and try, Grasshopper – I dare you.

So until “that day,” I’m entrusting all that I have to my Heavenly Father. No one can scam, phish, or bribe Him – He’s as wise and all-knowing as He is trustworthy. And as I mentioned earlier, I hope you are trusting Him, too.

If not – why not? For more information, click here.