Why You Need Some Star Gazing

Last week I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t fall back asleep, so I did something I don’t do often enough.

I went outside in the backyard, lay down on the trampoline, and just stared at the stars.

stars-926427_1280I listened to crickets.

I felt the breeze.

I enjoyed the fading sensations of summer.

It’s not going to be here much longer, you know. In fact, yesterday was the first day of autumn. Before the summer slips away completely, I hope you’ll go out some evening and do some star gazing.

While looking up at all those pinpoints of light, thought of the Scripture:

When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which You have set in place,
what is man that You are mindful of him,
and the son of man that You care for him? – Psalm 8:3-4

Taking time to stare at the night sky puts us in our place. The universe is vast, and we are tiny in comparison. It’s enough to prompt us to say,

Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! – Psalm 8:1

Lying there in the cool night air, staring at the stars (and the occasional plane passing over), the thought occurred to me that this beautiful, relaxing experience is available just about every night. It’s always there, but I so seldom take advantage of it. I’m too busy checking off to-dos and wrapping up my day and checking email one more time.

Star gazing is an tangible reminder that creation is so much bigger than my immediate concerns. It’s a great way to “zoom out” and get things back in perspective. It reminds us that just as God is holding the night sky together, just maybe He can hold my stuff together too.

I remember one night many years ago while our family was camping, I was the last one by the fire after everyone had gone to sleep. It was just God and me, and I looked up at that night sky and had this overwhelming sense of God’s presence. In that moment, I felt completely and fully loved even though I wasn’t accomplishing a thing. For someone who often feels like my value is in what I DO, it was a powerful experience of unconditional love, and it happened while I was taking time out to do – nothing. Nothing but soak in the beauty of the night sky.

I hope you will take a break to do some star gazing before the weather turns nasty. And I pray that God will speak peace and comfort to your spirit as He does to mine in those moments of stillness.

Near the end of my star gazing last week, I saw a shooting star. From the recesses of my consciousness came a nudge that I was supposed to make a wish. But in that moment I couldn’t think of anything to wish for. I already have all I could ever want.

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You’re invited!

As followers of Christ, joy is our birthright. But so many of us fail to enjoy what could be – living instead with a stressed-out, discouraged, moody perspective.

This is your personal invitation to join me on a 40 day journey that may change your life – starting October 1.

While I read and appreciate many books, I rarely call a book “life-changing.” I admit that the back cover sounds like so much hype: the book is “designed to help you think, speak, and act in ways that directly result in abundant joy and equip you to handle even the most desperate times and difficult people.” But over the last month, I’ve experienced just that kind of impact. I am getting so much out of it, I’m going to turn around and read it again, and I’d love you to join me.

FortyDaysdevoThe book is a devotional called “40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life,” written by Tommy Newberry and built around Philippians 4:8, which says

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

I can honestly say that I am experiencing more consistent joy than I ever have in my life, even in the midst of a long-term job search and walking through the loss of my father-in-law. This is deep-rooted joy, found in relationship with the Lord, not a flimsy happiness that shifts up and down with circumstances.

I believe it’s happening because of a simple investment of 10-15 minutes in this Biblical, God-centered devotional. (That, in addition to the regular time I spend with the Lord.) I love this book so much that I’m going to do something I’ve never done before – I am buying copies for each member of my family so that we can walk through the devotional together starting October 1. And I am also extending the invitation to you.

For those who live near, I am going to make a bulk order, and we can arrange a hand-off when they come in. This way we can get free shipping, AND I believe in this book so much that I will subsidize the cost down to an even $10 for you. All you’ll have to do is swing by my house and pick it up. Please let me know by the end of the day Saturday, September 19 how many copies you would like. You can email me, text me, reply below, or use my confidential contact form.

For those outside our local area, and others who prefer to order themselves, here’s the Amazon link to the devo. It is worth your time to read some of the reviews on Amazon – you’ll get a great idea of what you’re in for.

(NOTE: I don’t recommend buying the eBook, because every day there are “drills” which require some writing. I like being able to scribble my notes in the book and then go back and review them later.)

Finally, let me know if you would like to be included in a Facebook conversation around the devotional. I’d love for us to share together what we are learning.

I hope you’ll prayerfully consider joining my family for this exciting journey!

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Cheating Death

Death has visited our family for the second time in four months. Last week, my father-in-law passed away, following the path of my mother who passed in May.

John will be greatly missed. His friendly banter, his sense of humor, his big heart. It won’t be the same going out for Mexican food or celebrating Christmas without him. Though we all know deep down that separation is inevitable, we live most days in blissful unawareness, having convinced ourselves that death is far down the road.

cemetery-883417_1280

But no one escapes physical death. No matter how sturdy our genes, how healthy our lifestyle, how comprehensive our health care, eventually our bodies wear out.

We sometimes say that a person cheated death, usually after they evade an injury or win the battle against a terminal illness. But eventually even these individuals will go the way of all the earth.

There is only One who cheated death under His own power. For a few days it looked like He, too, had lost the battle. But He stepped out of the tomb, regenerated and immortal, extending hope to the rest of us who are powerless in ourselves to disarm our mortal enemy.

Because Christ cheated death, we can cheat it too.

For me, the most bittersweet moment of a funeral comes during the final moments at the graveside, during the committal prayer. In these familiar words, our deepest sorrow and greatest hope meet:

For as much as it has pleased Almighty God to take out of this world the soul of our departed loved one, we therefore commit his body to the ground, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, looking for that blessed hope when the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

This prayer recalls the words of Paul:

We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed…the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
 
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”        -1 Corinthians 15:51-55

God, and all who trust Him, will have the last laugh against death. We will experience resurrection, following the trail blazed by our Savior Jesus Christ, and we will stand regenerated before the throne of Almighty God with our hands raised in gratitude and praise. We may even pump our fists a few times celebrating the defeat of our greatest enemy.

Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. – Psalm 30:5

For now, we grieve, because separation is painful. But it is temporary. The day will soon come when the sorrow of death will be a distant memory, swept away with all sorrow, crying, and pain. We will rejoice with our loved ones who have preceded us, standing together in worship before the throne of the One Who made it all possible.

Question: How does it affect your grieving to know that you will see your loved one again?

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