Self-preservation

Self-preservation

Self-preservation is not all bad. If you were being chased by a Velociraptor it would be helpful. Or when you’re on a plane and they tell you to secure your own oxygen mask before trying to assist others. Seems logical.

But there is another type of self-preservation. It is an inner voice that says “The ship is sinking and it is every man for himself.” It’s like the scene at the end of Titanic where the villain dresses like an old woman so he can secure one of the last seats on a lifeboat. It is utterly dishonorable and yet there is a small part of me that relates.

But the truth is, I don’t want to be that kind of man. I want to be one of guys still playing his violin as the vessel is going down. Or even better, I want to be the one who would charge the lower deck and sludge through neck-deep water to find any left behind.

The actions of the musician and the hero would be crazy if this world was all there is. But it’s not. There is life beyond this life. Self-preservation is a lie. Jesus said those of us who try to save our lives will lose them anyway. But if we are willing defy self-preservation, we will find a true life that can never be taken away. And this discovery can give birth to joy and courage and peace far beyond anything the world has seen.

Down the Mountain

Down the Mountain

People who are looking for God often climb mountains. This is why so many temples are built on high places. But the mountains we climb are not just made of rock. It is not so much that we expect to find God sitting cross-legged at the summit. We just assume that in the spiritual realm, God is high and unreachable.

It is true that God is elevated and worthy of worship. But David Platt once made a simple yet beautiful observation. Jesus revealed something amazing about the character of God. He didn’t stay on the mountain waiting for us to climb to where he was. Instead, he came down to find us.

How to Fight a Bear

How to Fight a Bear

When I was a kid we went on a trip to Canada. On our hikes we wore bear bells — our only defense against the beasts lurking in the thick woods. Never saw one but I’m convinced we narrowly escaped.

Then there is the substantial black bear population near my in-law’s house in Wisconsin. On one visit my son suggested we carry a bowling ball with us so we would have something the throw in case of a bear attack.

In the face of an actual confrontation, neither of these offer much hope. But I was thinking. What if you could simply subdue a bear with your words? A firm rebuke and the aggressive animal halts, turns and retreats.

There is an enemy we all face who can be defeated in this way. One of the New Testament authors taught our battle is not against physical beings but against powers that exist in the spiritual realm. These dark beings aim to bring injury to us. The danger is not a razor-like claw or a massive mouth filled with teeth. The weapon wielded by our enemy is deception. He lies to us about who we are and who God is. His goal is that we will reject God and hate each other (and ourselves).

The amazing thing is that the child of God is fully capable of standing in the face of this enemy and renouncing him with a prayer of faith spoken in the name of Jesus. We also disarm him when we choose to love instead of hate.

Revived

Revived

There are people everywhere walking around, holding conversations, buying things and living, and yet they don’t seem alive. Perhaps this is you. You swallowed food or drank a glass of water today but you feel dead. I’ve felt this in very real ways before. In the same way our bodies can die, so can our spirits. This spiritual death is all around us but it is subtle. We may not realize something is killing us from the inside out.

But there is good news. If our spirits can die, perhaps they can be resurrected as well. The psalmist said God “revives” our souls (Psalm 19:7). The word “revive” could also be “convert.” In other words, God can convert us from death to life. He can bring us back from the brink.

My wife compared it to an AED for the soul. We are talking about an intervention. God is shocking us back to life with the power of his Spirit. But it is more than a temporary fix. Since God is eternal, his Spirit does not burn out. This means the life we can receive from him is eternal. Maybe this is what Jesus meant when he said we will live even if we die (John 11:25).

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