* See Below for Today’s Catch
Not everything made it to the final video.
* See Below for Today’s Catch
Not everything made it to the final video.
I used to think it was only the very rich who have two homes; now I realize we all do.
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. (2 Corinthians 5:1-9)
Sure, Paul. I got this. No problem … What?
I always thought this passage of scripture was strangely reminiscent of Richard Nixon, who would say, “Now let me make myself perfectly clear …” and you knew that was going to be followed up by something completely unclear.
What I think Paul’s saying is that we have two realities when it comes to being home and both are valid. It’s a case of two homes where one home makes the other one worthy. At the same time it is a paradox. God wants us to be comfortable long enough to make us uncomfortable. God wants this to be home so we can find out about another home. This home is important; that home is important. Jesus left one to come to the other, placing meaning on both.
I like to pride myself in being a handyman when I’m really not. I’m a handyman in my head only. So when Marti points out something that needs to be fixed like the light switch in the kitchen that no longer works, or the lights in the garden that aren’t getting any power, or the sprinklers that don’t spray where they should, or the hillside behind the garage that is eroding, or the tree next to it that needs to come down because it’s really just a giant weed … I always think in my head, “No problem; I can do that,” and then nothing gets done because I can’t. That’s when I have a tendency to devalue this home as being less important because it’s temporary. Not so.
There is Jerusalem, and there is a new Jerusalem, and Jesus cares deeply about them both. He wept over one; He’s coming to establish the other. There is this home – my address on earth – and there is my home in heaven, and Jesus cares deeply about them both. This one is made to welcome home those who will find, in our gospel of welcome, a home forever.
So I’ll fix what’s broken and get help with what I can’t, because this is my home, and I want everyone who comes here to feel welcome. After all, it’s more than just a home, it’s a doorway to another one.
This has been a devastating week for so many in Oklahoma and a rather challenging one for us here at the Catch. We have been planning a monthly subscriber campaign for some time, and we chose to make the three clicks of Dorothy’s shoes in the famous turn of the century children’s novel a fun and catchy way to get you guys to think about clicking your support for the Catch into the future. As you know that story begins with a tornado that throws Dorothy into an imaginary world of adventures from which only three clicks of her ruby red shoes will bring her back. There’s no way we could have known that a real tornado was going to strike at the same time we launched our “3 Clicks” campaign.
In an attempt to stay the course and still be sensitive to so many who lost their houses, I failed to realize that the lighthearted nature of some of our material previously created might appear inconsiderate to some, and for that, I apologize. All talk about house and home becomes painfully raw when you see the devastation wrought by such a powerful, random event.
However, as painful as it must be for many in Oklahoma, and for those of us who feel their pain, life goes on. There is a certain inevitability to this. Even those who will feel the loss of loved ones every day for the rest of their lives, still have to pick up the pieces and keep going. And the sooner we all find something to laugh about, the better.
Besides, home is still home. For thousands of families in Oklahoma, home will have to be in another house, or a hotel, but it will still be home. That’s because a house is not a home. Four walls and a roof does not a home make. People make a home, and that home can happen anywhere. Houses were destroyed, but for many, homes will be made even stronger.
There is a sense in which all of us will eventually lose our houses here, because our dwelling on earth is only temporary, and Jesus is preparing us a place in eternity where we will be home with Him forever. The important thing here is to create a home where God is served and love and acceptance rules — a place where the Gospel of Welcome can welcome many more home into His family. That is our goal, and our goal for you. So while we are here, your 3 clicks will help get us almost home. Thank you, and pray for Oklahoma.
It’s the father on the front porch, gazing down the driveway, anticipating that any movement he sees could be his son coming home. It’s open arms of acceptance, forgiveness and relief. All is forgiven. Nothing matters anymore except that my boy is home. What was lost has been found. This is the profound message of the gospel of Jesus. It is not a gospel of right and wrong; it is a gospel of lost and found.
There’s been way too much talk about right and wrong when Jesus Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost.
The only wrong thing is that you left. The only right thing is that you came home. Imagine causing a party just because you came home. That’s the gospel.
A woman lost a coin and tore her house apart until she found it and rejoiced. That’s the gospel.
A shepherd had a hundred sheep, but one was lost. So he left the 99 and went out after the one that was lost and the joy was in the finding. That’s the gospel.
The Pharisees were all about right and wrong. Jesus is all about lost and found.
The prodigal son was as surprised over his welcome as anyone. He was only coming home to be a servant. He had come to his senses. Better to work for Dad then eat with the pigs. Dad treats his servants better than this. I’ll be a servant.
And what does Dad do? He welcomes home his son.
Time to get over all this right and wrong and start welcoming people home.
The ruby red slippers that Judy Garland wore in the film The Wizard of Oz are the third most visited exhibit in the Smithsonian Institute. Does that surprise you, that with all the incredible historical and scientific artifacts that are in this famous museum, that Dorothy’s ruby slippers are the big deal? What’s all the hubbub? What else could it be? They are the shoes that took her home.
Based on the 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, Dorothy Gale is swept away to another land in a tornado and embarks on a quest to find her way home again, finally to be told that all she needs to do to get back home is click her heels three times while repeating “There’s no place like home.” Dorothy awakens back in Kansas after being knocked out, with her family at her bedside, learning the other land may have been a dream, but it taught her to value her home and her family.
Friends and relatives of at least 20 children in Oklahoma woke up this morning wishing what they experienced in a real life tornado yesterday had been just a dream from which they awoke this morning. Sadly that is not the case, and no amount of magic can bring them and the others who lost their lives in this tragedy back.
It is times like these that test our faith in a loving, compassionate God, and if it was asked once, it will be asked a million times, “Why would God allow such a thing to happen?” Indeed, we have come to label tragedies such as this one as “acts of God” in legal terms. So God just decided to wipe out all these people and all these homes and cause all this damage and misery? Didn’t He have anything better to do yesterday?
We can dwell on that question, but not or very long, because it’s not a question we can answer.
The question for me to answer today is not “Why them?” for us who are far away from this tragedy, or even “Why me?” for those who are close. The real question for the rest of us is “Why not me?” Why am I alive today? Why was my life spared to live another minute, much less another day? You can ask this question if you are 5,000 miles away from Oklahoma. It’s a relevant question to every day. Why did God take someone else and not me? Certainly any number of tragedies could have befallen me by now, and believe me, given what I know of my sinful self, I would have deserved any one of them. But God spared me this. He spared my life today. God wants me to live today. Why? He must have something He wants me to do on this planet. Well then, I’d better get busy doing it.
They say it’s one of the psychological hurdles anyone who comes home from a war alive has to face. Why not me? Why didn’t I die there with my friends? I don’t deserve to live if they can’t. The way to healing is to find the positive part of the question — the part you can do something about.
It is tragedies like the one in Oklahoma yesterday that make us look hard into these questions, but there is a sense in which this should be a knowledge we live with every day of the rest of our lives. God could have taken me by now, but He didn’t. Why didn’t He? What does He want from me that I haven’t done yet? The outcome of this question should be to live with a deeper purpose and a greater intensity.
In Baum’s novel, Dorothy learned to value her home and her family when she regained consciousness; we need to learn to value the same things, and our very lives as well. As more and more news comes out of Oklahoma today, ask yourself: “Why am I alive?” because I believe, of all the questions that are swirling around in everyone’s minds right now, that’s one question — and perhaps the only one — you can actually answer. You answer it with your life.
Most of us can identify in some way with the story of the Prodigal Son. He had spent all his father’s money on wild living and “came to his senses” when he ended up working on a pig farm just to survive and noticed that what the pigs were eating suddenly looked good to him. That’s when he decided to go back to his father, admit his bad decisions and offer to work as a hired hand on his father’s estate. But something else happened when he arrived.
Going home was a good practical move for his situation. He was willing to settle on being a hired hand. The surprise was that he wasn’t given even a chance to apply for the job. He was welcomed as a son. Before he could get a word in edgewise he was smothered in his father’s love and a welcome-home party began.
What can you do in the face of this? Fall on your knees and worship. God the Father’s great big hands are open to us and we are embraced without judgment. This is like no love we have ever known before or will ever know.
We crawled back home ready for the worst — ready to eat crow. We were prepared for the taunts from the others in the family — even from the servants. We weighed the cost and decided the embarrassment was worth it. We calculated all that. We left bragging and return in humiliation. We left triumphant and return a failure. And yet there is no “I told you so” speech. There is just joy and acceptance.
Worship? It’s all we can do to hold ourselves together. We know what we deserve, and this isn’t it. This is a party! God has done it all for us. One day we were sucking up to pigs, the next we are escorted into our father’s house and in the process, we discover the wonderfully good news that we’ve always had a home here. We never lost our place. This is where we belong.
“Click your heels together three times and say, ‘There’s no place like home’ and you’ll be there.”
Marti would have loved to have made this magic work last Sunday when we were seven driving hours away from home, especially when she dislikes driving so much. But is magic the only way to break the spell reality holds over us? Why is the Holy Spirit a spirit if there isn’t something “magical” about Him?
Jesus expressed “magical” powers when He was here on earth. Changing water to wine, walking on water, making fish suddenly appear on the other side of the boat, and ushering Him and the disciples immediately to the other side of the lake were ways in which He demonstrated His power over the natural elements of life — things we think of as concrete realities. Jesus broke the rules. Why would we not think He could do it again in our lives today? Was He just playing around with His power when He did these things, or was He telling us something about what our lives can be like, and what He wants to do for us?
Pixie dust, magic slippers, the yellow brick road … we all love a good fairy tale and every fairy tale has some magic in it. We respond to these stories because our lives bog down in harsh realities and repetitious boredom. Our feet are firmly planted on the ground. Life is heavy and sluggish. We all need some magic in our lives – something that takes us beyond the explainable, and something that takes us beyond ourselves. Raise your hand if you think you’re experiencing all that God has for you … I thought so.
Why do we have all these fairy tales if there isn’t some truth to what they seek? If God had meant for all of life to be explainable, why would He have dealt so often in the unexplainable, and if He did, why wouldn’t He have some unexplainable things to do in our lives right now, today? What is the Holy Spirit longing to do in your life today? A lot more than we let Him I fear.
My feet are much too heavy. I stay put and find comfort in sameness. Marti is constantly quivering with anticipation of the supernatural. She is waiting to be swept up. She tried to fly once when she was a child, but broke her collarbone instead. Would she try it again? In a heartbeat, if she wasn’t tethered to me.
Here’s something I do know: the fairy tales are only make believe; the Holy Spirit is real. That’s information we should do something about.
Thank you. I received some good advice and counsel from some of you, but most of all I received your love. You reached out to me and responded to my need. Are you uncomfortable that I am struggling? Do you come to this place for advice and encouragement and find someone like you who needs it? Good. That is the way it should be.
Pardon me while I pass on what has been passed to me. This one, from Arthur, is worthy of wall space: “Real courage and growth comes with each tiny step you take into your discomfort zone.” Thank you Arthur. I am thinking of the children of Israel who didn’t see the Jordan River open until the priests with the ark first stepped into the water.
And June put things in perspective with: “Cherish the time you all have together down here in our ‘non-permanent home.’”
And thanks to Eddie just in with this: “You can therefore be confident in every circumstance of life, however baffling, that it has been permitted in your own best interest by the wisest and most loving of fathers who knows our ‘load-limit’”
But Darin surprised me the most with this little homily on home. The surprise is the story that went before it that made this kind of positive reflection seem incongruous, but that’s the way it is sometimes with faith.
Home is the safest place in town when everything falls apart. Home is where the most tears are shed. Home is where most prayers are prayed. Home is where most Bibles are read. Home is where the best meals are served. Home is where the softest pillows are found. Home is where laughter relieves the most stress. Home is where mom and dad / husband and wife do their best work.
Home is where the peace of God works best. Home is where the still small voice of God is heard the loudest. Home is where the best plans are made.
I want to go to my Heavenly home when my time comes. But until then, I will live in exile as head of this household. As planned. Because it is in this home, in this town, where Jesus does most of His best work on my heart.
So Darin, does that mean if you or I avoid this tension, the work never gets done? I bet it does.