Thoughts on Kingdom, Church, and Grace from an American living in Hong Kong

Thursday, May 27, 2010

LOST: In this place, there is no Now

(Warning: Spoilers ahead!)
I can hardly believe its over! After 6 years of trudging through the jungles, the television series LOST came to a successful conclusion. I must admit, I like many other LOST fans were nervous. Were they going to ruin a story right at the end that we had come to love? Were questions that have been puzzling us, some from as long ago as Season 1, finally going to answered.

Well, the verdict from me?...It was wonderful!

I knew they were going to do something BIG at the end, but I REALLY didn't see the "sideways" storyline actually being a precursor to the afterlife.

And there were moments when, even though it was just the three of us, we yelled and clapped out loud upon seeing our friends Richard Alpert and Lapidus alive!

I could just go on & on!

Possibly my most emotional moment was when Ben Linus asks John Locke's forgiveness for killing him in life. The emotional explanation of his own insecurities which led to his horrific act tugged at my heart as the main root of sin was laid bare. Though Ben is destined for heaven, he seems to be going through a healing process even in the afterlife. It had me thinking of Revelation 22:2 when John describes the leaves of the Tree of Life being used to "heal the Nations". The inference being that even in eternity, the process of healing goes on.

Also was moved by the scene where Jack enters the church after realizing they are all dead. Some died during the show, others died years later and yet they all reunite in a single moment. When Jack asks his father how this is possible, he responds, "In this place...there is no Now". I got goose bumps because in a small way, I got a glimpse of eternity in this episode. I know some of you will role your eyes but I saw myself, reuniting with loved ones. Some having died long before me...some long after...but reuniting together in Christ in a single moment.

I want to go to there!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Thoughts on God's Grace Pt 1

Years ago as a young man in Hong Kong, I would often find myself with friends at a restaurant whose menu options were way out of my price range. My "faith based" missions income just couldn't compete with the expat salary packages many of my friends lived on. So as I sat there fumbling to make conversation, all I could really think was how much I couldn't afford to eat here, my own financial shortcomings, and tradeoffs in my mind that reasoned if I had a meal here today I would only eat noodles for the next 3.

Then suddenly a friend, perhaps sensing my dilemma, would say something like, "Order anything you like Steve, the meal's on me today."

Suddenly, everything changed.

One little phrase, and then I could enjoy my meal. I could now appreciate the fact that I was in a fine dining restaurant with exquisite interior and cuisine rather that a neon lit McDonalds with a Big Mac meal resting on a plastic tray. The focus was no longer on what I didn't have, but on what another person's grace had allowed me to enjoy.

I find many (if not most) Christians are in the same place spiritually. How many of us has the enemy convinced that they are not holy enough, good enough, or righteous enough for God to use. Jesus says, "I've consecrated you, and made you clean" and through our actions we say back to him, "Ah, no you didn't" We are crippled by our inability to afford the menu prices when Christ has already pulled the check to his side of the table.

God wants us to enjoy our position as His children. The Grace of God is more than just a "forgiveness of sins". It allows us to perceive reality differently. The focus is no longer on what I don't have have but on what Christ has! Paul says in the book of Romans:

but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

We don't act differently, and then get to be an heir. Because we are an heir...we act differently!

So, relax...enjoy the meal, the bill has already been paid!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Good Bye Ernie

I had tears this week! I came home from a two week trip to Turkey to discover that famed Detroit Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell had succumbed to a year long battle of cancer. When the news first came up on the computer screen a lump formed in my throat and my eyes began to well up.

I had never met Ernie Harwell and if truth be told, I don't think I even ever saw him in person. However, both myself and millions of other native Detroiters felt he was part of their immediate family. You see, Detroit is a baseball town and for more than 40 years Harwell was the play by play announcer for the Detroit Tigers.

His was the voice I heard blaring from the garage as my dad worked on the car. His was the voice I heard while tagging along with my grandpa as he worked out on his farm. And his was the voice my 10 year old ears fell asleep to on a transistor radio during a night game. Yes, he was the "voice of summer" to Detroiters over the age of 30. We took him with us to the beach, on picnics, and around town as we drove about our business. Yes...the Motor City has lost a family member this week.

Whats more was that he was a "salt of the earth" human being who was happily married to his wife Lulu for 68 years and was involved with a number of charities. He had a love for God as well and because of that my sorrow is curbed knowing he is now with his Lord and that one day I will hear him call the play by play again for a baseball game on a summer day in a much better place...

...until then Ernie,'ll be greatly missed!