Seattle is not a city. It’s a state. A state of mind. As Perry Como sang in his 1969 hit,
The bluest skies you’ve ever seen are in Seattle. And the hills the greenest green in Seattle. Like a beautiful child growing up free and wild Full of hopes and full of fears Full of laughter, full of tears Full of dreams to last the years In Seattle.
Another city sounds too good to be true. It will appear at the end of time as we know it. It was first “seen” in the mind of Jesus Christ’s close friend, John. Called “the holy city,” “the city of God” and “the new Jerusalem,” it will descend from above and become heaven on a “new” earth, since today’s earth will have been completely demolished and recreated.
This miraculous metropolis will be cube-shaped, 1,400 miles on a side. With 12-foot ceilings, it would be 600,000 stories tall, stretching from Canada to Mexico and from California to the Appalachians. Spacious enough for billions – with a b – of residents.
This city is not a state of mind. It will be a sin- and illness-free reality. What will qualify you to legally reside in this holy city that’s full of hopes, laughter and dreams to last an eternity?
Summer in Seattle tempts us locals to insist that the Emerald City is the most beautiful place on earth. Property with waterfront or a view command top dollar. Our temperate climate shields us from blistering heat. July and August skies roll back the clouds, revealing snowcapped sentinels guarding both flanks of dazzling Puget Sound.
Whether it’s sports teams, business icons, educational and medical facilities or appealing weather, we’re prone to preen with hometown hubris. Perhaps this gives us cover to minimize our rainfall and vulnerability to earthquakes, tsunamis and North Korean missiles.
So what do we do with our bent to be bragodocious?
Speaking through His Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah, the Lord said, “Wise men should not boast of their wisdom, nor strong men of their strength, nor rich men of their wealth. If anyone wants to boast, he should boast that he knows and understands Me because My love is constant, and I do what is just and right.”
Centuries later God’s messenger, Paul, wrote, “Whoever wants to boast must boast of what the Lord has done.”
Feeling “under the weather?” His mortgage is “under water.” It’s hard to buy a home in Seattle for “under half a million.”
Undernourished. Underappreciated. Underfunded. It seems as if under is not where you want to be. It connotes inadequacy, less than desirable.
But consider this star-spangled exception, written in 1887 by Rear Admiral George Balch. Revised five years later by Francis Bellamy, this gleaming assertion of love and loyalty was adopted by Congress in 1942. Want to say it with me?
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Woops, we overlooked one “under.” In 1954 one magnificent phrase was added:
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Only those under His banner, under His pledge of protection will experience God’s gift of everlasting liberty and justice. Are we, as a nation, under God? Are you?
How close are/were you to your father? How does he shape your self-image and choices? Did he gravitate to or away from you? Was he a tyrant, a benevolent dictator or your cheerleader?
Madonna hopes her “Papa Don’t Preach.” Eric Clapton never saw “My Father’s Eyes.” The Boss recalls “My Father’s Home.” John Mayer urges dads to “be good to your ‘Daughters.’” Luther Vandross aches to “Dance with my Father” again. Beyonce adores “Daddy,” “the man in my life who can’t be replaced.” He was rarely around and never said he loved her, but Reba McEntyre honors “The Greatest Man I Ever Knew.” Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s In The Cradle” describes my own Dad’s good intentions to “get together then.”
The “prodigal son” depicts God’s ideal father as generous, patient and unconditionally loving. Indeed, God loves us so much that He sent His only Son from heaven to die for your sins and mine so that we could live with God both here and in heaven.
Have you invited God the Father to permanently adopt you as His son?
From the warm, swaying surf of Kealakekua
To the mountainous big skies ‘round Missoula
From the boulders that guard the shores of Maine
To the bluebell explosion on the hot Texas plain
There’s much to love about this land, our liberty and our Lord.
In a nation that opens its arms to the world
We lie vulnerable to cultural confusion.
Such conflicting beliefs, can we hope for relief,
Or is “one nation under God” an illusion?
Yet, so much to love about this land, our liberty and our Lord.
When our Anthem is played and our flag passes by,
Do we rise as one big family to attention?
Does blood spilled for freedom bring a tear to our eyes,
Or has respect been replaced by dissension?
Still, much to love about this land, our liberty and our Lord.
T.S. Eliot ponders, “If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?”
This time of year life’s moments can tailgate, collide and stack up like the freeway at rush hour. We’re celebrating graduations, engagements and weddings. First-time parents are announcing the gender of their pre-born “womb mates.” And, oh yes, some of us are finally aging.
Life contains both highs and lows. It’s a package deal – you can’t have one without the other. By the way, how are you coping?
Paul can relate. He experienced both extreme suffering (to the point of being beheaded by Caesar) as well as extreme success. His secret sauce: “I can face anything because Jesus Christ is my strength.”
Why are you living at this time in history, on this spot on our planet? There must be a good reason since design and purpose are embedded in every element of our universe. Jupiter’s gravity shields us from careening asteroids. Our precise distance from the sun keeps our water from vaporizing or freezing, making life possible.
Now back to you. What can you do to make your small corner of the world better off than how you found it? If that’s too daunting, let’s dial it back a bit, shall we?
St. Paul says God chose to be your Friend because His Son Jesus took your place and mine on the cross as payment for our sins.
So, why are you alive at this time and in this place? Try this on for size. God has carefully placed you right where you are and is pulling for you to accept His love by wrapping your arms of faith around Him. And He has positioned you to invite someone else to do the same.
Could this be God’s design for your highest and best use?
Just like melting butter slithers across the crest of a steaming stack at IHOP, our days run together, unnoticed, then disappear. In a flash another week has slipped away. And birthdays, oh my, they rush up to you quicker now than an Edwin Diaz fastball.
When we were kids, time moved like a snail. There must have been at least forty-eight hours in a day! We couldn’t wait to be bigger, older and independent. Well, now we have all three, perhaps too much of each.
So, is your life today what you wanted it to be?
Centuries ago Moses wrote, “Teach us to realize the brevity of life so that we may grow in wisdom.” Considering how things are stacking up for you these days, in what area could you use a second helping of wisdom?
When and how April Fools Day was birthed is too murky to be dogmatic. It’s an occasion to pull pranks that reveal our gullibility to believe almost anything.
Clever admakers seize this day to poke fun and fuel their bottom line. Ikea is starting its own airline, naming it Flikea. Dating dynamo eHarmony, with tongue-in-cheek, promotes a new app that literally drags singles to each other with a magnet.
Silliness is honored by the annual Darwin Awards, heralding acts of utter stupidity that demonstrate reverse human evolution. It’s often presented posthumously.
We have a plethora of synonyms for the word fool. There’s cretin, moron, ignoramus, ditz, bozo, knuckle-dragger. But tempting as they are, the shepherd-boy-who-became-King opted for the less derogatory, yet sadly descriptive “fool.”
David wrote a psalm which begins, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”
Do you know anyone who’s been April Fooled into actually believing that?
Here on the 47th Parallel the sunlit hours are increasing by the day, predictably bringing smiles to wintry-worn faces who’ve had all the soggy they can handle, thank you very much!
One out of five Americans experiences Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) every winter. A wellness expert says sunlight has a greater impact on mental health than any other weather phenomenon. You’d think hurricanes and tsunamis might top that list!
Less sun, more gloom. Not exactly breaking news. John Denver testified that sunshine on his shoulders made him happy.
Will tomorrow morning’s weather be a good barometer of your disposition that day? There’s a 100 percent chance that the One who creates the weather is reliably changeless. What’s more, He knows your name and is crazy-in-love with you! This all-weather Savior wants you to spend the rest of your existence in the warmth of His “Son-light.”
Did you know that even before He spoke the world into existence, Jesus had already taken a shine to you?