Archive for September, 2014


I have used my imagination to create worst-case scenarios for much of my life. I didn’t know the future, but, instead, imagined that if something bad could happen, it probably would. So, I have worried a lot through my life.

Coming from an engineering and scientific background, I was trained in left-brain activity that largely did not make room for imagination for good purposes.

However, this is changing.

In recent years I have imagined what God would be doing with my life in five years, based on what he had been doing. And that has been exciting!

I have pictured Jesus’ loving and gentle gaze toward me and received comfort from my fears.

I have also used my imagination to re-enter scenes of trauma and receive healing from some of my childhood wounds.

So, is imagining just dreaming about what would be nice and has no relationship to reality?


To imagine the godly way is to begin with truth and picture what that reality would look like in our daily life.

For example, we all are exhorted to look forward to heaven. But some of us envision heaven as being a place where we fly around all day in the clouds playing a harp. How could any of us look forward to living like that forever!

But God describes heaven to be a place where “there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4). He also describes heaven as a place “where eyes have not seen, or ears have heard, all that I have prepared for you” (1 Corinthians 2:9, paraphrased). He also says “In My presence, you will have fullness of joy and pleasures forever” (Psalm 16:11, paraphrased).

Now, may we picture what heaven would look like for us today, based on the truths above? Sure, it won’t be as good as in heaven, but we can still be thrilled through our Spirit-guided imagination.

The dictionary defines the word imagine as to form a mental imagine of something not present. Heaven is not present, but it is a future reality. Our future here on earth is not present, but we have God’s promise that it will be full of good and loving things (Psalm 23:6). And the people who have wounded us through the years may not be present, but through our imaginations we can have healing conversations with them.

We have all heard that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Many of us have also heard that “without a vision the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18, KJV).

We need pictures to guide and inspire us. “Be imitators of me, just as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). We need to imagine truth, not fictitious stuff we make up in our fantasies, like John Lennon did in his song, Imagine.

A couple of years ago, I took the challenge of picturing what a day in heaven would look like for me, using Scripture as a boundary for my imagination. My perfect day will not be the same as yours.

For me, it was a beautiful day in the country in the fall. A large number of brothers and sisters lived with me on a huge estate in what looked like a modern castle. And we all got along! Jesus was there, both for laughter and fun and for serious strategy sessions regarding kingdom responsibilities.

Jesus and I also did some fishing that afternoon on a lake that was teaming with large fish. We had a huge fish fry that night.

Now, I look forward to heaven, more than I did before, through God using my imagination to paint a picture of a future reality.

So, I challenge you today to allow God to use your imagination to give you a picture of a present or future reality. It could be a day in heaven, what he will be doing in your life five years from now based on what he is doing today, or picturing yourself in gospel scenes where you are an eyewitness to what Jesus is saying and doing.

May God use your imagination to deepen your walk and anticipation of the wonderful future that he has planned for you (Psalm 21:6).




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We Reap What We Sow

I have seen the sad consequences this week of bad decisions leading to bad consequences, both for this country and for a church. I observed that we can’t escape the reality that good results come from good decisions that are made one at a time.

I think of the well-known statement that says,


Sow an act, and you reap a habit.

Sow a habit, and you reap a character.

Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.


Don’t Expect Good Results From Bad Decisions

So, why do we fall into the trap of expecting good results that stem from bad decisions?

I think we often make shortsighted decisions. The sluggard decides to take it easy because it feels good and he still has plenty of money in the bank. But then the unexpected happens and he needs a job and can’t find one. “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands, and your poverty will come in like [gangbusters]” (Proverbs 6:10-11).

We also do not believe the Bible that eventually we will  reap the consequences of what we sow. For example, we avoid confronting sin in our life or someone else’s because it is painful. We avoid immediate pain but sow to the flesh. But God promises us “he who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption” (Galatians 6:8).

We should not expect to reap good results when we have not done business God’s way, in his power, and for his purposes.

Another example of how we expect to reap when we have not sown well is in the area of spiritual growth. Some Christians believe that God will grow them without their sowing to the Spirit by practicing spiritual disciplines. These are activities like Bible Study, going on retreats, and practicing silence. Done in dependence on God, they are an important way to cooperate with God in his transforming us into a loving, peaceful and joyful Christian.

Yet, some of us expect the benefits of the Christian life without work, even through the Scriptures tell us to “work out your salvation in fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). Spiritual disciplines do not earn us spiritual growth, but they allow God to do his work in and through us.

How We Sow So We Will Reap

So, how do we sow so that we shall reap what we want?

First, we need to remember that God has wired the world to yield results consistent with what we do, think, and say. “Those who sow trouble shall harvest it” (Job 4:8).

Second, we need to examine each of our actions to insure that they are godly. We can’t expect God’s blessings when we fail to live God’s way each step of the way. “Does He not see my ways, and number all my steps?” (Job 31:4).

Finally, we need to sow to the Spirit in all that we think and do. “Sow to the Spirit and from the Spirit you shall reap God’s blessings” (Galatians 6:8, paraphrased). We sow to the Spirit through obedience, spiritual disciplines, and dependence on the Spirit to enable us to live the Christian life.

“Don’t be deceived, God is not mocked, for whatever you sow, you will also reap” (Galatians 6:7, paraphrased).

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I have observed this past week several examples of the stupidity of running away from our problems. I have observed how our political leaders ran from their problems of balancing budgets and created our astronomical debt.

I also reflected on how some church leaders ran from their problems of holding one of their own responsible over several years, which led to the church becoming unhealthy.

And I have also observed in my own life how I have run from the pain of learning how to market a book, which will probably lead to the failure of future books I write.

Why We Do It

So, why do we to run from our problems?

The short answer is to avoid pain.

We also think that just because we don’t suffer right away, we will not suffer. But God promised that we would reap what we sow (Galatians 6:8). The consequences of our running away often don’t fully overtake us until years later.

We also tend to find ways around our problems that seem to get us a less painful resolution than facing the problem. This week I realized that running away from facing some fears I have will only result in experiencing them in body pains. I decided it wasn’t worth it and am now facing my fears.

Another reason we run away is that we are prone to being fooled. Why else would otherwise intelligent people fall down and worship a block of wood? (Isaiah 44:19). They were running away from their need to worship God.

We also want to hang onto the perks of running from our problems. We fail to rely on the truth that, “Better is the poor who walks in his integrity, than he is crooked though he be rich” (Proverbs 28:6). We run away from losing our perks.

Why Not Do It

So, why not run away from our problems?

Because running away doesn’t work in the long run. “God will bring every act to judgment, everything that is hidden, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14). Eventually, we will suffer the consequences of running away.

Also, running from our problems is not taking responsible action. God promises us that with his help we can successfully act responsiblibly in every situation. “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). We don’t have to run away.

Another reason we should not run away is that often our problems grow worse. The debt, the unhealthiness of a community, and the pain in the long run often grows worse when we run away from facing them today.

May we all ask God to “teach us to number our days that we may present to him a heart of wisdom “ (Psalm 90:12) that faces our problems with his help and not runs away from them.

May we not be shortsighted and do what is comfortable today and fail to see the long-term consequences of running away.


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