How Much Of My Money/Time/Stuff Do I Need To Give To God?


This post was written by Ricky Alcantar. Ricky is lead pastor of Cross of Grace Church in El Paso, Texas. 

As Christians we know that we should be giving back to God. And most of us don’t argue with that, but the key question comes down to this: “How muchdo I need to give God?”

Most of the details our lives are built around questions like this:

  • “How much of my money should I give to this or that charitable cause or to my church?”
  • “How much of my time should I be giving to God?”
  • “How much of my energy and talents should I be giving God?”
  • “How much of my my DVR, my internet surfing, do I need to give God?”

I think thinking like this is just dead wrong. And if you stop and think about it for a minute, you probably think it’s dead wrong too. But why do we start thinking like this?

In America we’re all about “balance.” We want a “work/life” balance. We want to balance our role in our family, with our hobbies. And we, especially, love us some “me time” – our time to unwind and shop, or watch an uninterrupted football game, or take in a movie, or play a game with our amateur sports club. We look at our calendar, or our budget, and divide our calendar into “My time” and “Family time” and “Exercise time” and perhaps “God time.” In general we see our time as, well, our time, and try to decide how best we should use it.

To pull us out of this mindset I’d suggest asking three questions:

1) Who’s life is it? 

In Genesis we see that long before humanity appears on the scene, the scene is built around God: “In the beginning, God…” And God gives humanity life and breath to live joyfully under his rule. As their creator, rightfully their lives are his. But our first parents rebelled and said, “No these lives are ours” and sin entered the world. For millenia we have dealt with again and again with the devastating consequences of thinking, “This life is mine.” But there is hope.

The Bible refers again and again to a particular concept of “redemption” and redemption means “Deliverance by payment of a price.” We see this language throughout the book of Exodus (see 6:6) as God promises to deliver his people, to “buy them back.” God’s people were held in bondage but God came down and redeemed them at a price. We see some of this “price” in the lambs slain to cover the doors of the Israelites, but ultimately it pointed forward to something much greater.

Colossians 1:13 says, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” We were held in bondage in a domain of darkness, but God has brought us out into the light. How? Because of his beloved son in whom we have redemption. This is the good news of Jesus Christ: We sold ourselves into bondage but Christ has bought us back again.

You see this over and over in the books of the Law, for example Deut 15:15 “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today.” And we’ll see that even in the Ten Commandments in Exodus start with “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery….have no other gods…don’t steal…don’t commit adultery…” And you see this in places like 1 Corinthians 6:20 where Paul says “You were bought with a price, so glorify God with your body!”

Answering all those questions above starts by recognizing, “This life is not mine. All I have is a gift of grace. In light of redemption, all of my time is a gift. All of my money is a gift. All my talents are a gift.”

2) Why do I have this life? 

Why would God create us in the first place? Why did he redeem us?

Well, we can answer this even by looking at Exodus. The purpose given over and over for Israel being “let go” from Egypt is surprising. It’s worship. God commands Egypt to let his people go that they could offer sacrifices, that they could hold a feast, that they could worship. God is signaling “I’m going to redeem this people and bring them out in order that they might worship me again.” And this worship was not meant to simply be a series of ceremonies, or meetings, or an hour on Sundays. No, it was to encompass everything from their economy to their sex lives to their clothing and their parenting. It was a whole life orientation.

Paul gets at what “worship” means when he says in Romans 12: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” In light of their redemption from Egypt, Israel offered sacrifices. But in light of Christ’s redemption, Paul is saying that our sacrifice is not something from our garden or livestock but that weare the sacrifice.

So why have we been redeemed? To live a life of worship to God, in every area.

3) How should I live then? 

Simply put: We recognize that no part of our lives as Christians is “ours” and that all should be done as an act of worship to Lord. No more me time. No more treating “God time” like another box in our schedule. Instead it means writing REDEEMED over every hour spent, every dollar, every decision and asking, “How does God want me to use his time, his money, his resources?”

You see this over and over in the books of the Law, for example Deut 15:15 “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today.” And we’ll see that even in the Ten Commandments in Exodus start with “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery….have no other gods…don’t steal…don’t commit adultery…” And you see this in places like 1 Corinthians 6:20 where Paul says “You were bought with a price, so glorify God with your body!”

But this is not some begrudging, obligatory obedience and service. No, when we’ve been redeemed everything in us cries out to serve and worship our redeemer. Psalm 107:2 says “Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble.” Everything in us should want to “say so.”

A few examples:

  • Energy – We are finite beings – we can’t be excited about everything. How much of your redeemed energy and zeal should go to the cause of your redeemer? Let the redeemed of the Lord say so with their energy and passion!
  • Time – How much of God’s time does he want you to give to him and how? Let the redeemed of the Lord say so with their time!
  • Holiness – We often section off our lives, saying, “Okay I’ll be forgiving but don’t touch my sexuality.” How much of your life has God redeemed? Let the redeemed of the Lord say so with their lives!
  • Money –The question is not “How much of my money do I have to give to God?” The question is “How much of God’s money does he want me to give and to what?”  Let the redeemed of the Lord say so with their money!
  • Family – Our families are not our families. Our families are a gift from God. The point of our families is not our families, the point of our families is worship. How can we best worship God as families? Let the redeemed of the Lord say so with their families!

So how much of your life should you give God? Just give him what he owns and has given you––everything.

photo credit: aresauburn™ via photopin cc

The Best Antidote For Christmas Stress


Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.  But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)

Martha was doing a good thing – she was serving Jesus. She wanted him and her guests to enjoy themselves. She wanted to bless them. She wanted them to enjoy their challah and gefilte fish. There were bagels and lox and matzah ball soup and dishes of knish to bring the guests.

She was distracted by “much serving”. Martha was serving her guts out. But she was distracted. She was unable to focus or concentrate on Jesus’ words. She was probably catching some, but unable to think about what he was saying or reflect on it. “I heard him saying something about a lost sheep,” she said. “But who has time for stories? I got blintzes in the frying pan.”

Martha may have been joyful initially but now she’s getting annoyed at her sister. Now she is serving, but not with gladness.

Jesus said Martha’s problem was deeper than mere distraction about getting the meal on the table – she was “anxious and troubled about many things.” The cares of this life regularly choked out Mary’s joy and God’s word in her life.

In Martha’s eyes, Mary was lazy or unproductive or selfish. She wasn’t getting anything done. Jesus said “one thing is necessary.” It is “the good portion.” What is that? Mary “sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.” She was focused on Jesus and his word. She was undistracted in her devotion to Jesus. She was simply putting Jesus first. Her relationship with Jesus, getting to know him, and meditating on his teaching was her priority.

We too can be distracted, anxious and troubled about many things. I talked to a friend recently whose stress on the job feels like a tsunami breaking over him.  A friend’s husband has early onset dementia. I know a number of families who live paycheck to paycheck. Most of us know someone who struggles with the fury of depression, or who has a sick child.

These are major temptations to anxiety and fear. Serious distractions. Now add to all this the additional distractions and stressers of the Christmas season – presents to buy and wrap, getting a tree, decorating, family gatherings, travel, then there’s the gift wrap outreach and the food collection and the Christmas eve outreach with the live camels. Ok, most of us don’t have to worry about live camels, but you get what I mean. And if aunt Mary and aunt Jean come to our Christmas meal it’s going to be tense, and who knows if Joe is even going to come…you get the idea.

Only one thing is necessary.

To sit at Jesus’ feet. To listen to his word. To rest in him.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3).

This may be hard to do, but we must seek to stay our minds on Jesus and trust in him. Don’t neglect to take time in God’s word and to pray this Christmas season. Put that first. Make that top priority. A little time every day in God’s word. Carve out a time to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to his voice.  There’s no better antidote for Christmas stress.

Is Your Phone Drowning Out The Voice of God?

+photo by Johan Larson

+photo by Johan Larson

It’s no secret that I’m a pretty big tech nerd. I love my iPhone, my iPad Air, and my Macbook Pro. I love the fact that all three of my devices seamlessly integrate, to the point where I can even take a phone call on my Macbook. I love using Twitter and Facebook to connect with people (although I’m starting to despise the “personality” tests that are beginning to dominate FB – no you would not be Luke Skywalker if you were a Star Wars character). I try to stay up on all the latest gadgets and apps and video game systems. I’d like to get a smart watch. I love the little tracking chip I had installed in my neck (just kidding). Needless to say, I spend quite a bit of time in front of a screen.

And while I’m certainly not opposed to spending time in front of a screen, I’m beginning to wonder if I my screen time is causing me to not hear God’s voice. You see, God is speaking to me all the time. He speaks to me a thousand times a day. The question is: am I listening?

Now before you scream, “Heretic!”, and burn me at the stake, let me explain. God is speaking to me all the time, but not audibly, not in the “still small voice” kind of way (“Wear the red socks, Stephen!”), and not by causing the clouds to form a cross, or something weird like that.

God is speaking to me all the time through creation.

Psalm 19:1-2 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.”

Every day, the brilliant, blinding, healing, heating sun cries out, “I was created, and my Creator is glorious!” The stars sing a three billion part harmony, of which the main refrain is, “We were made by a creative, brilliant, overwhelming God!”

Matthew 6:26 says, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

My house is surrounded by trees, and those trees are full of birds. Every time a bird eats a nut or insect or worm, it is declaring, “Someone is taking care of me, and that same Someone will take care of you! If God takes care of me, don’t you think he’ll take care of you?”

Isaiah 40:8 says, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”

The trees that surround my house are currently changing colors and dropping leaves. As a leaf falls to the ground, its dying cry is, “I perish quickly, but the Word of God lasts forever! Trust it!”

God has filled the world with reminders of his glory, splendor, love, affection, and fatherly care. God really does want to speak to us through the sunshine and the Milky Way and the sparrows and the flowers. Creation is constantly belting out the glory of God, if only we have eyes to see and ears to hear.

Technology is a tremendous blessing. But I’m beginning to wonder if all my texting and Tweeting and Instagramming might be crowding out the song of creation. I’m wondering if the constant beeps and chimes and space sounds (my text message alert) are drowning out the glory of what is happening all around me. Maybe I would worry less if I spent less time on my phone and more time pondering the birds. Maybe I would have more joy if I spent less time “liking” things on Facebook and more time basking in the sunshine. Maybe I would treasure God’s word more if I spent more time kicking around in the leaves.

Sorry, gotta run. My text messages keep piling up.

The Secret To Loving Jesus Much


The more we realize how much Jesus has forgiven us, the more we will love him.

In Luke 7 a woman of ill repute shows up at a meal Jesus is attending in a Pharisee?s home. She breaks open a flask of expensive ointment, then, weeping over Jesus? feet, wipes them with her hair and anoints them with the oil. The Pharisee, named Simon, most likely disgusted that Jesus would let this unclean woman touch him, thinks if Jesus were a prophet he?d know the kind of woman this is and have nothing to do with her. Jesus tells him:

?A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?? Simon answered, ?The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.? And he said to him, ?You have judged rightly.? (41-43)

Then after mentioning Simon?s lack of courtesies – he didn?t wash Jesus? feet, welcome?him with a kiss or anoint his head with oil – he pointed out how the woman washed his feet with her tears, kissed his feet and anointed them with oil. Then he delivers the punch line:

“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven?for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.??(47)

Before he saved me, Jesus let me sink into a self-made miry pit of sin, selfishness, and misery. I couldn?t get out and couldn?t stop sinning. God is sovereign. ?He could have kept me from sinning. ?But?he allows us to plunge deeply into sin. ?One of the reasons is?so that when he does?rescue?us, we?re far more amazed and grateful than if we’d never?sinned.

The same thing happens even after God saves us. He could keep us from ever sinning again. He could deliver us instantaneously from all pride and anger and self-centeredness. But he allows us to fall and struggle at times so we?ll have a fresh appreciation of his grace, forgiveness and love. And as a result we will love him all the more.*

John Newton said:

?…when, after a long experience of their own deceitful hearts, after repeated proofs of their weakness, willfulness, ingratitude, and insensibility ? they find that none of these things can separate them from the love of God in Christ; Jesus becomes more and more precious to their souls. They love much, because much has been forgiven them!?

Have you blown it repeatedly? Messed up so many times you can?t recall? If you haven?t turned to Jesus yet, do so today! He paid for every one of your sins on the cross and freely forgives all who call upon him in faith to save them. He’ll?cleanse you of your every sin, and in turn you’ll?love him much.

Maybe you?ve believed for years, yet?you?re discouraged in your struggle?with sin. Remember, Jesus paid for all your?sins long before he saved you. Ask him for forgiveness and he?ll forgive you and cleanse you of all unrighteousness. Not because you deserve it, but because he loves you. And you too will love much because you?ve been forgiven much.

I don?t advocate continual, morose, Eeyore-like dwelling upon our sins. But I DO advocate contemplating how much Jesus has forgiven us, because the more we realize the height and width and?breadth and depth?of Jesus’ forgiveness, the more we will love him.

The secret to loving God much: contemplate the immeasurable debt Jesus paid for you and how vast is his mercy and grace to you.


*The reality?of God in his sovereignty allowing us to fail to reveal the depth of our sin, our weakness and need and the greatness of Christ’s mercy and love is explained well by?Barbara Duguid in her book “Extravagant Grace: God?s Glory Displayed in our Weakness”

1 Corinthinans 13…Remixed For Today


If I status update with such insight, hilarity, godliness, or profundity, that I get a thousand retweets and likes, yet have not love, I’m a cellphone that won’t stop ringing, or a car alarm at 2 AM.

If I understand every nuance of every complicated doctrine, including eschatology and predestination, and am a constant defender of orthodoxy, and if I am renowned for my ability to communicate truth with passion, but have not love, I’m nothing more than a first grader in the kingdom of God.

If I am a fantastic worship leader, able to lead hundreds of people in passionate worship of God, yet have not love, my skills are worth jack.

If I am a blog warrior, constantly on the attack against those who would distort the faith, yet have not love, I’m that yippy dog next door who won’t stop barking…even at 3 AM.

If I live a life of radical sacrifice, crazy love, and wartime mentality, and sponsor lots of kids through Compassion International, and go on mission trips in “closed countries”, but have not love, I gain nothing.

If I am a great artist, able to capture a snapshot of the glory of God on canvas, or in song, or in prose, or on film, and yet have not love, my creative “genius” is utterly useless to God.

If I preach like Piper or Chandler or Chan or Platt, and yet have not love, I’m nothing more than a squawking parrot who likes to imitate others.

If I read all the books by all the smart theologians, and can quote them off the top of my head, yet have not love, WHO REALLY CARES!!!!

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

What Sort of Man Is This?

photo credit: cpboingo via photopin cc

?What sort of man is this, the even the winds and sea obey him??

This questions, on the heels of Jesus calming a storm, rings through the gospel of Matthew. It comes from those who know Him, not from a stranger. What sort of man is he? A good one? A powerful one, certainly. A wizard or a prophet? Self-serving or benevolent? Many of us call ourselves disciples of Jesus, but have we ever been stunned enough at Him to rock back on our heels and ask ?What sort of man is this??

This is a man who makes blind eyes see and crippled legs straight and strong. He cools and soothes feverish bodies and minds. A shriveled hand straightens and flexes under his touch, or even at a word. And a rotting corpse inhales and is made whole and alive, not undead, but living.

And He is the sort of man who would do these same miracles today. He is the sort of man who would make crippled hope strong again. He would soothe those minds and hearts fevered by temptation and bring them back to reason and reality. The blind eyes of a soul are made to see truth and know it for what it is. A shriveled marriage feels the circulation flow, it flexes, and has purpose and life again. And those who long ago committed their souls to the mortician quicken and live.

Every miracle Jesus did, every healing, was more than just a kindness to the needy (though it was never less). Each one sought to raise people?s eyes above mere humanitarian goodness to something greater: himself. We cannot lose ourselves in the activist Jesus or be wearied by the Sunday school Jesus, for if we do we have lost Jesus altogether.

?What sort of man is this?? is not just a question for those who have never met Jesus but one for everyone to ask. At every turn we will find out something more about what sort he is. It is never ending and always wondrous. Unless we stop asking, at which point all we?re left with is what little we know of him and even that soon starts to fade. Ask this question and let him answer it from the pages of scripture and in the wind and seas of your heart.

photo credit:?cpboingo?via?photopin?cc

The Internet Makes Us All Miserable


Once upon a time, jealousy and comparison and coveting was limited to the people you knew.

Your neighbor gets a new car, your car is a lousy piece of crap, you feel jealous. Your coworker gets a raise, you’ve worked your tail off without getting a raise, you feel worthless and angry. Your church friends have wonderful, tastefully decorated houses, like snapshots out of “Real Simple” magazine. Meanwhile, your house is like something out of “Prisons and Penitentiaries” magazine, which makes you feel like a failure. Your brother’s kids are respectful, well-behaved kids, who say, “Please”, “Thank you”, and “I’ve memorized all of Ephesians”. Your kids make poop jokes at the dinner table.

In the good old days of jealousy and comparison and coveting, we compared ourselves to those close to us. When someone near to us succeeded, we felt like a failure.

But the good old days are gone. Now, thanks to the Internet, we can feel like failures all the time.

When you get on Pinterest, you are instantly assaulted by tasteful Mason jars, beautifully sculpted furniture, immaculate hair braids, and gourmet foods. Meanwhile, your house is decorated in a style called “Wal-Mart”, and you are serving your kids gourmet mac ‘n cheese.

Things aren’t much better on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. Every day hundreds of people post about the awesome life they are living. Newly engaged couples post photos of themselves sitting together, foreheads touching, fingers intertwined. Meanwhile, you’re single, with no prospects other than a full Netflix queue. Parents give a shout out to their four year old, who just learned one hundred Latin words. Meanwhile, you’re still trying to potty train your four year old (that would be me). Your fellow writing buddy posts that he just signed a book deal. You’re still trying to get someone other than your mom to read your blog. A woman in your church publicly thanks the Lord for helping her lose one-hundred pounds. You spend your days wearing sweatpants and gym shorts.

Is it wrong for people to post happy status updates and photos? No, of course not. We should rejoice with those who rejoice. We should give thanks when someone gets engaged, loses a lot of weight, or signs a book deal.

But the Internet has dramatically, exponentially increased the temptation to compare ourselves to others.

It’s time to stop playing the comparison game.

Every time you open your browser or app, remember:

  • You are fully, completely, one-hundred percent accepted by God. This acceptance is rooted in the finished work of Christ, not your parenting skills, decorating skills, body type, or relational status. You don’t need to be like anyone else to be accepted by God. God accepts you in Christ, and that is enough.
  • God has a specific, good plan for your life. God’s plan will lead you through specific dark valleys and to specific green pastures. These valley and pastures are particularly shaped by God for you. Don’t try to fight your way to someone else’s green pasture, all the while ignoring the pasture God has prepared for you.
  • You are called to be faithful to teach your kids about the Lord. You’re not called to teach your kids Latin, the names of all fifty presidents, the geography of the African plains, or the history of classical literature. If you want to teach your kids those things, great. But your primary calling is to teach your kids about the Lord. Stay faithful to your calling and God will be pleased.
  • You are called to serve faithfully in whatever sphere God has placed you. On the final day, God will reward you based on how faithfully you used the talents he gave you. He won’t reward you based on how well everyone else did.

Don’t let the Internet make you miserable. Don’t let the Internet determine how you see yourself. Serve faithfully and let God be the judge.

photo credit: Alex E. Proimos via photopin cc

Jesus, It Seems Like You Didn’t Get The Memo

TO: Jesus

FROM: Stephen


Jesus, it has come to my attention recently that things haven’t exactly been going according to our little agreement. You do remember our agreement, right? I’ll follow you and call myself a disciple of Christ and you will fulfill all my wonderful plans for my life. According to section three of our agreement, all the plans I have for me will be fulfilled on my time frame as well. (See attached project plan for specific dates and times)

In light of our “discipleship agreement” (hereon referred to as “DA”), I would like to call your attention to several pressing issues. First, there’s the issue of sleep. I’ve been dealing with a bit of insomnia lately and am getting really tired of lying on my couch at 2:00 A.M. watching Sports Center. Please correct the issue immediately.

Second, there is the obedient child issue. As you are aware, my three year old daughter, Charis, has strong opinions about when she will and will not wear a princess dress. Training her not to argue and to be patient is getting sort or wearisome, and I would appreciate it if you could correct this issue as well. Right away.

Finally, there is the financial provision issue. While I do acknowledge that you have met all my needs abundantly, I could always use more. Please see the attached financial supply schedule for further details.

Additionally, could you please ask Tim Keller to stop writing things like this:

God’s sense of timing will confound ours, no matter what culture we’re from. His grace rarely operates according to our schedule. When Jesus looks at Jairus and says, “Trust me, be patient,” in effect he is looking over Jairus’s head at all of us and saying, “Remember how when I calmed the storm I showed you that my grace and love are compatible with going through storms, though you may not think so? Well, now I’m telling you that my grace and love are compatible with what seem to you unconscionable delays.” It’s not “I will not be hurried even though I love you”; it’s “I will not be hurried because I love you. I know what I’m doing. And if you try to impose your understanding of schedule and timing on me, you will struggle to feel loved by me.” (Kings Cross, pg. 63)

While well meaning, Tim obviously doesn’t understand our particular DA. Plus, his words remind me about all that stuff you said about being God and being the center of the universe, which I don’t like to think about.

I anticipate your quick response to my complaints. Thank you for your time.

If This Is Greatness Our Dreams Are Too Small

Sony recently released this trailer for the soon to be released Playstation 4.

I’m a big fan of video games. I grew up playing Nintendo, then graduated to the Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, Playstation 2, XBox 360, and now Playstation 3. Video games, like any other form of entertainment, can be a wonderful, relaxing gift from God. In fact, just last night I was dominating the NBA, personally dropping 38 points on the Golden State Warriors. This is not a vendetta against video games. I like video games.

But I’m appealing to my generation: DON’T BUY THIS DREAM OF GREATNESS!

It is possible to spend hours upon hours, holed up by yourself, conquering worlds, leveling up characters, creating dynasty football teams, and slaying dragons. It’s possible to climb online leaderboards to the point where you become a well respected gamer. It is possible to create entire worlds, to become a digital god!

But I want my generation to dream bigger dreams for the true God!

  • Let’s not conquer a thousand digital worlds, let’s conquer the real world by proclaiming the gospel in our communities.?
  • Let’s not level up fake characters, let’s level up our own character as we pursue holiness, righteousness, and godliness.?
  • Let’s not create imaginary dynasty football teams, let’s create real dynasty churches where the gospel is passed from generation to generation.?
  • Let’s not slay pretend dragons, let’s join forces with the true King who will slay the real dragon!
  • Let’s not climb the online leaderboards, let’s climb down the ladder of servanthood.

Friends, don’t believe Sony’s cheap, hollow, unsatisfying, lie of greatness. Someday we will stand before the throne of God. On that day I want to hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You gave your greatest energy and greatest passion to me. Now enter into true greatness!”

Videogames are a wonderful blessing from God. But if videogames constitute our dreams for greatness, our dreams are way too small. Dream big for God.

I Can’t Wait Until I’m Not In Heaven

I’ve gotta confess, I feel a little uncomfortable saying this. Am I allowed to say this in a public forum? Is this going to be bleeped out, or am I going to be fined by the FTC, or something? Maybe I should post this anonymously…Oh what the heck, here I go…

A lot of times heaven sounds really boring to me.?

There, I said it. Phew. Glad that’s off my chest. No more secrets. No more hiding. I’m not that excited about heaven. When I think about heaven it all seems so…abstract. I know that we’ll be in God’s presence for eternity, I know that we’ll worship Jesus for eternity, I know that there will be hordes of angels, and I know that there will be no more pain, sorrow or tears. And don’t get me wrong, all that stuff sounds great. But when I picture it in my head, it just sounds like one really long Sunday morning worship service. I’m a worship leader, and even I can only sing Chris Tomlin for so long before I need to do something else. I’m a preacher, and even I could only listen to myself preach for so long before I had to do something else.

I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that heaven sounds boring. I think lots of Christians feel that way. And, as Randy Alcorn has said, not being excited about heaven is one of the main ways Satan keeps us comfortable here. So how do we become more excited?

I think we need to remember that heaven is not our final destination.?

So often we talk about heaven as if it is the final resting place for a Christian. When someone dies, we talk about them finally “going home”, and “being in a better place”. And they really are in a much, much better place. As Paul said, he longed to die and be with Christ, which was better by far.

But the reality is, heaven is simply the waiting room for the rest of eternity. When a person dies, they leave their body and go to be with Christ. But that’s not the end. Our final, glorious, exciting hope is not an abstract, bodiless existence. Our great end is not to float about the universe as bodiless souls. The end comes when Jesus returns, makes a new, physical heavens and earth, and gives us new, physical resurrection bodies.

I can’t relate to simply being a soul. I have no concept of that form of existence. But I can imagine having a new, resurrection body, and the prospect of that excites me! Our resurrection bodies will feast at the table of the Lamb! We will eat glorious meals! What sorts of flavors will our new bodies be able to sense and savor? Our new bodies will sing to the king. How many different shades and shimmers of harmony will we be capable of producing? What sorts of things will we do with our friends in heaven? Will we explore? Will we swim in heavenly lakes? Will we have heavenly competitions?

I don’t know all that we’ll do in the new heavens and the new earth, but I can imagine. I can think of all the God-given joys I experience in this life, and then amplify them by a million. I can think of the many gifts of God I experience in this life, then blow those up. It’s going to be wonderful. Astonishing. Breath taking.

Will heaven be good? Yes, it will be great. But I can’t wait until I’m not in heaven. Heaven is just the waiting room. I can’t wait until I’m in the new heavens and new earth, with my new resurrection body. That’s what I’m truly looking forward to.