What to do When Your House Falls Apart

“The inheritance to which we are born is one that nothing can destroy or spoil or wither.” (1 Pet.1:3, NEB)

As a homeowner, I’m always amazed at the endless work it takes to keep things in good shape. One house we had needed painting every few years due to the damp Maritime climate. Tired of scraping and painting, I tore all the clapboard off and installed new wood, painted the whole house, and hoped it would solve my problem. It didn’t. A contractor friend said there was too much humidity inside the house (4 kids and all those showers…), so I installed an air exchanger, and had the whole house covered in vinyl siding. That fixed it.

That same house also had a leaky basement. We had to dig a trench, 5 feet deep, all around the foundation to repair cracks, install drain tiles, and then fill it all in, rebuild front and back porches, repair the lawn, restore the driveway…Oh my!

Sometimes home ownership can be tedious indeed. One works on things inside and out. If you own a house, you know what I’m talking about.

The scripture above tells us we have a home waiting for us in heaven that will never need the kind of upkeep we do in this present world. “Nothing can destroy it,” Peter declares. It will never suffer from fire, floods, or simple aging. It will never “spoil” from damp weather, rotting materials, insects, or our endless wind. And it wont “wither” (fade away) from the hot sun, blasting weather, poor materials, and shifts in the ground. It will always be in perfect shape and carry no worries or expense.

It’s an inheritance God reserves for those who faithfully serve Him as Christians, even when life is hard. He has a spot for you awaiting your arrival in the next life – a reservation in heaven.

The next time you are knee-deep in dust, dirt and paint, remember that you won’t have to do any of that in heaven. “In this you greatly rejoice…” (v6).

– Tim Johnson

A Living Hope

A LIVING HOPE

The Prairies can be a lonely place, but it was especially so for Tom Sukanen, a Finnish immigrant who moved to Saskatchewan over 100 years ago. He’d walked 600 miles from Minnesota, where his family waited for him to later return and get them. Seven years later he did, but his wife had passed away and all his children had been placed in foster homes. Alone, he returned to his homestead near the South Saskatchewan River. He dreamed of returning to Finland and, having been trained as a shipbuilder, decided to build a sea-going vessel he could sail up the river to Hudson’s Bay, then across the Atlantic. The Great Depression hit, and at great sacrifice, he managed to build his craft in sections, moving each by himself 17 miles to the river. The heaviest piece needed help, and no one would lend a hand. He sank into depression, especially after vandals stole some of the metal parts. Institutionalized in a hospital, he died in 1943. Decades later, the community organized a museum and Tom’s ship is the crowning piece. You can visit it today, just southwest of Moose Jaw.

Sukanen’s sad story teaches us many things, but one thing stands out: the futility of unreasonable hopes. While we all would wish for Tom’s success, there were just too many obstacles. It’s different with the hope that every Christian carries in his heart – to live again after death and enter heaven. Peter put it this way: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3) He emphasized that it is A LIVING HOPE. It’s not an impossible, and therefore unreasonable hope. Jesus Himself rose again, demonstrating forever that the coming resurrection will indeed take place. Our hope is real, and it will not fail.

– Tim Johnson

When Everything is Falling Apart

The past few weeks have seen many upsetting things happen in the world. Terrorist violence in London, England, outraged people around the globe. Our national budget promised to plunge us into tremendous debt, sparking worries in the financial sector. Similar anxiety took place in the United States with the realignment of their finances, possibly leaving the poor and elderly in difficulty. It seems that every week brings new worries and surprises. Many people tend to throw up their hands and give up.

When young Daniel was taken to Babylon, he and is Jewish friends faced a barrage of upsetting events and changes that would cause any normal person great stress. I’m sure he longed for home, but Jerusalem had been destroyed. New uncomfortable responsibilities were demanded of them, and soon their lives were threatened by a demanding king who insisted on an interpretation to his dream. Like many people today, Daniel could have thrown up his hands and given up.

But he was smarter than that. He got together with his three friends and spent time in prayer to God, who promptly gave them wisdom. When his appointment before the king arrived, Daniel stood before him with the confidence that only faith can bring. One of his first statements is something we always need to remember: “However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries.” (Dan.2:28) The king had demanded something impossible, “however, there is a God in heaven.” Daniel’s life had been threatened, “however, there is a God in heaven.” They had been forced to move to Babylon, “however, there is a God in heaven.” Do you see the point? When things seem hopeless and people can’t see beyond the clouds above, we need to remember God. He’s still in control; He gives wisdom generously; He promises to look after His people; He has a plan.

Yes, our world regularly seems bent on falling apart and nobody seems to have adequate answers. God is not acknowledged, and few seek His compassion. That’s when we need to remember what Daniel said: “However, there is a God in heaven.”

– Tim Johnson

Men of Whom the World Was Not Worthy

We’ve all been encouraged with the great characters found in Hebrews 11. The people listed there lived their lives by faith, which is the focus of the chapter. In moving terms the author describes the courageous nature of each of them and the heroic things they did way back in history. While some of them became famous in the Old Testament, many lived out of history’s view. It didn’t matter if anyone was watching them, they lived and died for the Lord anyway.

One statement in verse 38 stands out, although it’s only parenthetical: “…men of whom the world was not worthy.” How could people who were forced to “wander in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground” be considered so great that the world wasn’t worthy of them? Surely such people looked miserable, stressed, poor, and weak. What made them remarkable is that they endured hardships because, in their circumstances, it was necessary in order to be faithful. They chose the hard road because it was the only road to heaven. God considers people like this to be the greatest in the world. Faith makes all the difference.

What a contrast to the people today the world considers great. Attention always goes to the fabulously rich, to the outrageous, rebellious, immoral, and the reckless. The world likes people like this and gives them honour. But God views people of faith as the cream of the crop.

Don’t spend your time worrying about getting rich or trying to look cool and reckless. You might get some attention, but God will only shake His head. He wants you to live for Him in a way that will move you to sacrifice and endure hardships – if that is necessary – and to make the right decisions for yourself and your family, no matter the social repercussions. If you do, in God’s view, the world is not worthy of you.

Read Hebrews 11 again. Could your name fit in there?

– Tim Johnson

The Christian’s Rio

It’s summer Olympics time again and all eyes are on Rio de Janeiro. Despite Brazil’s struggles to complete their Olympic facilities, the games have begun. It is amazing how disciplined each of our Canadian athletes are. They’ve trained for years and made many sacrifices. We wish them the best.

The New Testament writers used ancient athletic games to teach us about self-discipline and dedication. Perhaps the apostle Paul’s most well-known scripture about it is 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. He tells us to “run in such a way that you may win.” Not emphasizing competition, he is urging us to go through life as if running a race depended on our excellence. We aren’t to be sloppy or negligent about our responsibilities, attitudes or impressions we give to people. He is teaching us to be careful with others and never cause them to stumble because of poor attitudes or selfishness that we may display. “Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things.”

Paul reminds us that victorious athletes receive a prize, such as a medal and some fame (the ancients awarded wreaths); but we are aiming for an imperishable reward. It makes sense, then, to run the race seriously and to make our lives count. The apostle said that he would “buffet my body and make it my slave.” He mastered his body’s desires and never let them control what he did. It is a picture of a Christian who intended to excel for Jesus Christ.

This week, when you watch the Olympic athletes compete, think of your own life. Are you running well? How can you improve so that you will win?

– Tim Johnson