Category Archives: Eternal Outlook

All You Have and All You Need

*Adapted from Advent Devotion written for First Family Church

 

“I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope” Psalm 130:5 (NASB)

Hope – a word that can spark emotion and elation in one’s heart. Hope – an expression of the expected fulfillment of one’s desire. Hope – a quality of existence with unique implications for the Christian. In the native Hebrew language of the Old Testament, the word for “hope” is “yachal”,  meaning to “wait with expectation.” Nearly half of these occurrences are in the book of Psalms.

The author of Psalm 130 spoke of a hope that transcends mind, body, and soul. This Psalm of lament has great implications for the present day Christian. In the character of God, we see One who hears the cry from the depths of our heart. Despite no underlying merit from the psalmist’s debased soul of misery, He entertains his plea for mercy. The faithful cry and plea is rewarded with forgiveness. What a God worthy of our worship and gratitude!

While the soul’s cry and plea are often immediate external expressions, waiting and hoping are enduring internal motivations. We live in one of the most affluent societies in the history of the world – where the ease of instantly gratifying our desires nearly invalidates the idea of waiting and hoping. Our consumer driven society allows us to bypass “hoping for” and “waiting for” in most instances. Is it really surprising that this all affects our spiritual lives as well? We can become so comfortable in this world, that it replaces the yearning and the hoping for the soon coming of our Lord and Savior, King Jesus.

“…my soul does wait, and in his word I do hope”

Do we have this confident hope and expectant waiting in God? In His word? In His judgment? In His mercy? In His redemption? Can we make this confident expression of expectation in the God who is always faithful to His promises (see Hebrews 10:23)? Does your soul wait and hope for a new heaven and new earth where God himself will dwell among us (see Revelation 21)?

If you can go back to the moment where your soul first cried out for Jesus, you will realize that hope was all that you had. My prayer is that we will find that this hope in Jesus is all that we ever need!

Father God, thank you for gifting us the blessed hope, Jesus. In the midst of our busy lives, teach us what it means to wait with hope for your coming kingdom. Let our souls find complete satisfaction in nothing but you! In the blessed name of Jesus, AMEN!

Scheduling the American Dream

Daily Schedule: Wake, shower, and commute to work from the suburbs before the kids are even out of bed.  Work on projects, field calls, and prepare presentations until I realize that the day is over and my wife is calling me about what time to have dinner on the table.  Pull in the driveway a little after 6 pm to be greeted by 4 children and a wife eager to see me and share about the events of their respective days.  Enjoy a home-cooked meal and the remaining 90 minutes of family time before putting the kids to bed around 8:30 pm.  Relax, catch up on the day’s events, while preparing for tomorrow’s, before drifting off to sleep knowing the bills have been paid and my family is being provided for…

Sounds like my personal slice of the American Dream, eh?

The truth is, from the outside looking in, my life appears to have met the requirements of this so-called American Dream: home in the suburbs, a satisfying, well-paying job, a wife and children.  Perhaps four children is too many to qualify for the American Dream, but we have foregone the dog and cat for the time being (which sort of evens it out).  The schedule listed above could be classified as a typical outline of my days for the frist half of 2011, and truthfully, there has not be a lot for me to complain about.  Life “looks good” to the eyes of men.   

There is nothing inherently evil with the aspects of the so-called American Dream which are present in my life (job, home, wife, kids).  In fact, I contend they are all worthwhile and profitable endeavors.  However, as a Christian man, is the American Dream what I should ultimately be striving to accomplish?  The answer should be “no”, but for whatever reason this has become the benchmark for success in our society today.  As with everything else in our society, the goals of the American Dream are short-sighted.  Politicians make decisions based on what will make them more electable for their next term.  Football programs bend and break rules to land the prized recruit who will lead them to glory for his four years of eligibility.  The list of examples could go on forever.  We are stuck in a world obsessed with instant gratification.  At the root of instant gratification screams the desires of the selfish, sinful nature.  There is no eternal outlook.

What if my schedule was evaluated for its impact on heavenly / eternal things?  How would it stack up?  Would it meet the litmus test?  Granted, there are things of eternal impact that did take place throughout the day of the schedule listed above.  However, the evidence would suggest that I was scheduling the American Dream, and not a heavenly minded reality.

Lord God, help me to approach each day with a heavenly minded, eternal outlook, instead of seeking the securities of the American Dream.  Lead me as I lead my family in seeking the fullness of Your being and satisfaction in the fullness of Your presence.

Challenged to be Moved

Today, our church was blessed to have a special speaker, Daniel Punnose from Gospel for Asia.  Daniel is the son of the founder of Gospel for Asia and author, K.P. Yohannan.  I have heard representatives from Gospel for Asia speak before, so last night I knew that this morning I would be faced with an eternally focused message.  In all honesty, there was a part of me that was fearful of that.  Sure enough, Daniel brought the word of God with conviction and sincerity.  Preaching from a familiar passage in John 4:27-35, he emphasized the last verse and Jesus instructions to his disciples…”lift up your eyes.”
For the better part of the past year, my wife and I have felt at times like we are running on empty.  Four kids, four and under presents its daily challenges, but the real challenge has come in my battle with my selfish, sinful nature.  In all honest, I feel much like the disciples in John 4:35, who are so concerned with the physical (i.e. the harvest is 4 months away), that I am missing the spiritual (i.e. the fields are white for the harvest).  It is apparent that when you are unable to take your eyes off of yourself, you miss the spiritual (“lift up your eyes”).  I wonder if perhaps I am not alone in this “confession of a selfish 21st century Christian”?  Not that it would make me feel any “better” about myself, because I know it is God who is stirring my heart (thankfully!).  But I have to come to the realization, that without making the choice of doing things differently, I am just going to have the same ho-hum spiritual results.  If I want a vibrant prayer life,then I need to eliminate the snooze button of my life and rise to pray while my family still sleeps.  If I want the word of God to speak to me, I have to desire it above my physical appetites.  This stirred heart of mine has challenged me to be moved!
Lord, you know all things and know my heart.  Lord, you know my weaknesses.  Move me.  Change me.  Teach me to live authentically so that because of the way that I’m living my life someone else will know the gospel!  Lift up my eyes and stamp eternity on them!  In Jesus’, precious, holy, saving name!

Keeping It Eternal

It has been a really hectic last 4 1/2 months to our lives.  I may have underestimated the change in time commitment it takes to go from parenting 2 young children to 4 young children (including twin infants).  It truly has been a blessing to have four children (yes, you heard me right…blessing!), but it has left me with considerable less time for free time activities (such as blogging, writing, studying theology, and staring at the wall).  Though it is a trade-off that really is a no-brainer.  I love spending time with my children and I rarely do my free time activities while they are awake.  The “problem” (I’m attempting to use that term in the right way) is that with 4 children there’s a whole lot less time when they are all asleep and my wife and I aren’t running for the bed ourselves!

The Lord has been encouraging me through various means to keep an eternal outlook on my circumstances.  The terms “eternal outlook” and “eternal perspective” have been readily heard in the vocabularies of many people whom I have recently heard speak.  It reminds me of my own thoughts put into words in a series of blog post about my blog’s vision, in which I thought of “eternal outlook” as “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:13).

Even though life has been at times crazy (kids, work, stress), I have been reminded gently by the Holy Spirit that I need to continue “keeping it eternal”.  Thank you Jesus for shepherding my heart!

Blessings,

Travis

Vision – Part II: Christian Living with an Eternal Outlook

Having laid out Part I of my vision a few days ago, it logically follows that there would be a Part II.

So what is meant by “Christian Living” and how do you define it?  Furthermore, who defines it?  How do we wrap our minds around what it means to live as a Christian?  Furthermore, what kind of “Christian Living” am I trying to encourage?

Trying to define Christian living can be a daunting task.  In it’s most simple form, I believe it can be broken down to: 1) the manner of one’s life being in Christ, 2) being alive in Christ 3) maintaining life and livelihood in Christ.  This is by no means an exhaustive definition, but gives a starting point.  What exactly is meant by “life in Christ” will make for some interesting blog topics at a later date.  I believe that scripture has a lot to say about how the “life in Christ” manifests itself in our actions and words.

Furthermore, there have been numerous books and articles have been written on developing spiritual disciplines in the lives of Christians.  Men and women of faith have lived their lives sold out for the sake of knowing Christ and making him known.  One could also exhaust the myriad of scripture references admonishing us to “live sensibly, righteously, and godly in this present day and age” (Titus 2:12).  But simply knowing these things is knowing about the Christian life, and it not necessarily Christian living, for “let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds “(Hebrews 10:24).

The vision and purpose of this blog to unpack what Christian living is all about in a God honoring way.  Not so that we may boast in our good deeds, but so that we can boast in the cross of Christ and his power to change a life of sin and serving the flesh into a life that is submissive to the Spirit of God and used to glorify His holy name!

So, what kind of “Christian Living” am I trying to encourage?  (Hint: check blog domain!)  Answer: Christian Living with an Eternal Outlook.  In some ways the statement seems redundant, because true Christian living is with an eternal outlook  But sometimes, the thought of “Christian Living” conjures up dreams of some grandeur life of God’s blessing being bestowed upon one’s life and living the so-called “Christian American Dream”.  My heart is to encourage Christian living that results in us “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:13).  That we would accept our role as strangers and pilgrims on this earth (see Hebrews 11:13) and that we would “desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Hebrews 11:16).  Be encouraged Christians brothers and sisters, our heavenly home awaits us!

Blogging with a Purpose and Vision

I have been dabbling in blogging for a little over 10 months.  I have been praying specifically for the past few months that God would give me a vision and purpose for my blog.  Those who follow my blog or my wife’s blog may recall that we went through something similar this past fall as we were attempting to start our own website (the result is the Eternal Outlook website that is still being built).  By seeking the Lord, through prayer and study of His Word, I have been asking the Lord to specifically give me a vision and purpose specifically related to my blog.  I believe he has reminded me once again of the theme verses for our website. 

Titus 2:11-15 plainly states – “For the grace of God has appeared, bring salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in this present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.”

So with this blog it is my prayer that I would: “Encourage Christian Living with an Eternal Outlook through Exhortation and Meditation on the Word of God”

In the near future, I hope to be able to unpack my thoughts on this vision and prayer in a more lengthy post.  

Launched!

It is with great excitement that my wife and I have launched our very first website.  There’s not a lot there right now, but check it out:  www.eternaloutlook.com

We will be updating the website in the near future to add more functionality in working toward fulfilling the vision that we have for the website.  God Bless!

Vision!

Recently, my wife and I began talking about starting our own web site. We’ve been doing the “blog thing” separately for a while now, and thought that it would be fun to join forces to reach a greater audience. The web site would house our blogs, have photo links, links to great articles, etc. Essentially, our goal was to reign in our “hobby” and to turn it into a fruitful ministry opportunity.

This past weekend, we were working on developing a vision for a website and coming up with a domain name. It was a painfully slow process. We bounced back and forth between talking about domains and vision, using both the left side of the brain and right side. I had finally come to the conclusion that my human mind and intellect was not going to be able to put together a cohesive vision for what I felt God was calling us to do. So, I turned to the scriptures and stumbled upon this simple, clear passage after hours of exhaustion trying to voice what I wanted the vision for the website to be. In the book of Titus, Chapter 2, verses 11-15, it plainly states – “For the grace of God has appeared, bring salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in this present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.”

THAT WAS IT!!!!

We were finally able to start wrapping our hands around the vision for the website, so our focus turned toward a domain name. It was also a painfully slow process…it seemed as if all the great domain names were taken. However, we had managed to come up with quite a few good ideas as we were hashing out our vision. After being illumined to a passage of scripture for our vision, we felt very clearly led to choose a domain name that would represent this vision: http://www.eternaloutlook.com/.

Don’t bother going there, because you will not find anything. It will be a slow process getting the website up and running, but I couldn’t contain my excitement as I am trying to get geared up to develop a website.

If this ends up being a complete waste of time and money by human standards, and it just doesn’t work out, so be it. But, if we get this web site up and running and are able to clearly put forth a message that will “help bring salvation to all men”, encourage others to “deny ungodliness and wordly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in this present age”, then it will be worth the many hours of toil that we put into it. Even if we are able to affect one life, encourage one person! To God be the glory! We are moving forward with an eternal outlook!

Words are sometimes difficult to find

During the past week, my wife and I have lost a part of our family.  My wife should’ve been starting the second trimester of this pregnancy, instead we are faced with the loss of a child.  A child we will never hold or hear from.  A child who will never cry and wake us up at night.  Instead, at times, the crying keeps us up at night.

We have some incredible friends and family that have supported us through this trying time.  Even though we have been somewhat in waiting, for the past three plus weeks after our initial ultrasound, I think the thought of miscarriage remained kind of surreal until it actually happened last monday evening.  I’ve struggled to put thoughts together and have the necessary words to comfort my wife.  We have consistently turned to scripture for comfort and God has given us incredible hope and peace.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 – “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.  For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voices of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.  Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

We have great hope in God, because He is just.  We know that life began at conception and the soul of our little baby lives on, and we look forward to meeting him/her in the air with the Lord.

What should my focus be…

For some reason I have been grappling with what my blog focus should be.  Sometimes, I think I should just keep it open ended, blogging about whatever comes to mind.  At other times, I think it sounds intriguing to develop a focused blog that will be more challenging to read and post.  So I guess I’m stuck somewhere in between, but it has caused me to realize that I have a tendency to go at things with less than full gusto, not because I don’t like giving 100%, but because my tendency is to over-commit and spread my time too thin.  I have also begun to realize that this spreads over in other areas of my life.

It is my heart’s desire to be used by God in mighty ways…and yet…I find myself busy with busyness.  I think God has laid a great test out there for Christians living in the western world.  There is so much good “stuff” to consume our time, that it becomes easy to push aside devotions, prayer life, careful study and discernment of the word of God.  I believe that Satan has gotten a foothold on our culture, by seemingly eliminating peoples’ “need” for God.

I pray that God will develop an attitude in me that says, “God use me at any time and in any way that you please”.  I pray for God to simplify my focus in life, so that all things would be for his ultimate glory!