Ultimate Hope

2020 has been one heckuva year, has it not? I often see posts and memes on social media lamenting the awfulness of this year and looking ahead, longing for something better. As a believer in Christ, I know that the “something better” for which we all long has already been accomplished.

Amidst all the noise that is 2020, this assurance rings true:

God’s goodness and love have not left the building. God is just as present in 2020 as He has ever been. He speaks to us through His Word just as He always has. And, fellow believers, we have so much to look forward to, including the incredible promise that we will dwell with Him forever.

God has much good to say to us, but we must dial in. Be in the Word. Be in prayer. Be in worship, whether online or in person. God is our ultimate hope for our life’s future and for our eternal destiny. Indeed, we can take comfort in these words from one of the most quoted chapters in Scripture, remembering that even in the darkest of days and the toughest of times, God is in control. He’s got this. And He’s got you and me cradled in His loving arms – today and for all eternity.

With that reality in mind, let’s take on this day!

Soli DEO Gloria!

Seize The Day!

“Ah, the good old days…” How many times have you heard somebody say this, or something similar? How many times have you said it yourself? I have to admit, I am guilty as charged.

“Do not say, ‘Why is it that the former days were better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this.”

Ecclesiastes 7:10 NASB

Isn’t it interesting the people in Old Testament times had this same lament that we often hear today? So much so, apparently, that the writer of Ecclesiastes felt the need to address it.

When we dwell in the past, longing for “the good old days”, we become distracted from living today to its fullest potential. Today is a gift from God to each of us. He wants us to enjoy it. So let us celebrate today! Live it! Enjoy it! Relish it! Indeed, Seize It!

Soli DEO Gloria!

Image Credit YouVersion Bible App

(c) workisministry 2020

Enjoying Life “Under the Sun”

I remember as a boy a commercial jingle for a fast food chain that started, “Eat, drink and be merry!” This chain is famous for its ice cream treats and, indeed, as a youngster it was always a treat when my parents would give in and take us to Dairy Queen to enjoy one of their sweet, sugary concoctions. Truth be told, I still enjoy the occasional visit; drive through almost any small town in Texas and you will likely see the DQ sign somewhere along the main drag. What better way to enjoy the Texas countryside than an ice cold shake (vanilla is my fav)?

“Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one’s labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward.”

Ecclesiastes 5:18

Do you enjoy your work? Do you enjoy your life? Did you know that God wants us to enjoy life? He does. Now, we must be careful here. This is one verse that is easy to take out of context and go way off the rails with how we apply it to life. Pull this out of the context of the whole of Scripture and it appears to be a license for gluttony, drunkenness and “whatever”. Taken within the context of the whole of Scripture and we quickly realize that is not the message here at all. So, what is the message?

Let’s work backwards through the verse. “This is his reward.” According to Merriam Webster, a reward is “Something that is given in return for good or evil done or received or that is offered or given for some service or attainment.”1 What is the reward here? The reward is to “eat, drink and enjoy oneself in all one’s labor.” Simply put, to enjoy the fruits of our labor. This is not a careless free-for-all; it is, however, an expression of joy.

The writer of Ecclesiastes writes much about the futilities of this life. He goes on about the vanities of life. The lack of purpose of life. But as one reads through this book, the author’s point is revealed: Life lived absent of God is futile. Life lived in relationship with God is fulfilling. Daily toil with no perceived purpose is futile. Daily work with an attitude towards service to God is fulfilling. And in the midst of all this, he tells us to enjoy the fruits of our labor, for that is our reward. It is not a license to sin, but it is a reminder to enjoy life’s blessings.

A fictional young man named Ferris Bueller summed it up quite well:

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.2

[Ferris Bueller’s Day Off]

As strange as it may seem to quote Ferris Bueller in seeking to understand a passage of Scripture, I think young Ferris hit this one square on the head. A wise person once said, “Stop and smell the roses.” I think that about sums it up.

So – here are some things I enjoy “under the sun”:

  • I enjoy the relationships of family and friends.
  • I enjoy a Blanton’s bourbon on a large rock after a long day of work.
  • I enjoy a thick steak accompanied by a bold Cabernet Sauvignon at a fine restaurant with family, friends and coworkers.
  • I enjoy a long walk on the beach (yes, I really do).
  • I enjoy the fresh air of the early morning.
  • I enjoy boarding an airplane to travel someplace new or someplace familiar.
  • I enjoy watching an Astros baseball game at Minute Maid Park, and I really look forward to the day when we fans can return.
  • I enjoy reading and meditating on God’s Word. That is partly why I write this blog. In fact, I am enjoying listing things I enjoy!
  • I enjoy live music and dancing a two-step to a good country band.
  • I enjoy reminiscing with my friends from Concordia days.
  • I enjoy singing in the choir.

I could go on. As I write this, I am reminded of how much I enjoy my life and that God wants me to enjoy my life. What a blessing that is!

What do you enjoy “under the sun”?

Soli DEO Gloria!

(c) workisministry 2020

1“Reward.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/reward. Accessed 11 Aug. 2020.

2Hughes, John, et al. Ferris Bueller’s day off. Hollywood, CA: Paramount Pictures Corp, 1987.

Easter Monday: Now What?

I did a lot of soul-searching this weekend. It really began Saturday morning as I read my church’s suggested Scripture reading for Day 40 of Lent (James 5:13-18).

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other, so that you may be healed.

James 5:16

Confess. You see, I’ve always sort of wondered what to do with Saturday, the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Years past, I would pretty much go about my normal routine. But these aren’t “normal” times, are they? As I read from James’ epistle, I felt that I needed to do something different from past years. So I embarked on a journey beginning with a 5 1/2 mile walk during which I listened to my favorite podcast pastor Alistair Begg. After his sermon, that word kept nagging on my mind. Confess.

I spent the second half of my walk talking with God. I felt closer to Him than I have for quite some time. I offered up various confessions and felt this tremendous sense of reassurance. As I approached home, I knew what I needed to do. I needed to take some time along to *finally* design my 2020 Vision Board in my Christian Planner. How’s that for procrastination? Now, I’m not much of an artist. But this came very quickly, and I am pleased with the result.

Here it is. My roadmap. This represents all that is most important to me. With Christ at the center, I will do a better job of nurturing the three important components to living a happy, fulfilling, God-pleasing life:

  • Something to do;
  • Something to love;
  • Something to hope for.

I am grateful to Pastor Larry Coulter for sharing this wisdom at my brother-in-law’s funeral service this past December. His passing came as a shock, and we all miss him terribly. Larry reminded us that these three fundamental needs are necessary for us to live out our lives here on earth as we await the great reunion that will take place in Heaven one day.

Easter morning I woke up – wide awake – at 4:25 AM. I couldn’t wait to worship with a few congregations online. I worshipped with Holy Trinity Brompton in London, Immanuel Lutheran Church in Greenfield, Iowa and Word of Life Fellowship in Cibolo, TX before joining my home church’s online service here in Houston. My wife and I watched “The Passion of the Christ”. As strange as this Easter was, unable to gather in person but able to gather online, it was exactly what I needed. I just love it when God anticipates and meets my needs!

So – Easter was yesterday and today is Monday. What next? Well, here you have it. Knowing that I can rest assured in my salvation through Jesus’ death and resurrection, I am free to pursue my hopes and dreams – hopes and dreams that I will consistently seek to align with God’s Word, His perfect will, and His perfect ways.

He is Risen! He is Risen, indeed! Alleluia!

Now let’s get on with living!

Soli DEO Gloria!