Focusing on EternityNovember 20, 2007
A heavenly destiny waits for all of those who put their trust in Jesus Christ. On the broadcast today, author and pastor Crawford Loritts talks with Dennis Rainey about living intentionally for God.
A heavenly destiny waits for all of those who put their trust in Jesus Christ. On the broadcast today, author and pastor Crawford Loritts talks with Dennis Rainey about living intentionally for God.
Focusing on Eternity
Crawford: My place in heaven, and eternal life is not just my place in heaven, but it's a quality of life right now that in me is the resurrected power of Jesus Christ. He is inside of me, and He can help me to overcome. Now, it doesn't mean that I won't struggle, it doesn't mean that I won't have issues, it doesn't mean that there won't be the pull, but I've got to believe where I'm going over against where I came from.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, November 20th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We're going to talk today about how where you're going should influence how you live your life today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us. I've told you what I want sung at my funeral. Have I told you that? You don't remember, obviously, so …
Dennis: Well, I'm just trying to visit the archives. You and I have talked about a few things. I don't remember – I do not remember discussing …
Bob: I would like to have sung – I probably haven't told you because I was afraid you'd sing it, and I don't want that.
Bob: I'm sorry, that is crass, isn't it?
Dennis: I've been nice about your singing for the most part.
Bob: I would like someone to sing, "In the Sweet Bye and Bye," and I'd like it done in, there's a Glen Campbell arrangement that I heard a number of years ago that was wonderful.
Dennis: I'll go right to work on that.
Crawford: I'm just hoping you don't die too soon.
Bob: Well, it's a great song about the land that is fairer than day, by faith we shall see it afar, the Father waits over the way, preparing a dwelling place for us. It's one of those great songs – in fact, if you look through your hymnal, you look at the fourth verse or the fifth verse, the last verse of most of the hymns in your hymnal, you know what they're about?
Dennis: Oh, yeah, heaven.
Bob: They're about heaven, and we have to make sure that in our longing for heaven, we're not becoming dissatisfied with the assignment that God has given us today, but we can still long, can't we?
Dennis: We can. I think it's important for us to long for the One who is already in heaven, and I'm not talking about a loved one, I'm talking about the capital "O" of the One. The Almighty God, who is the designer of heaven and earth. We have a good friend who is joining us again on FamilyLife Today, Crawford Loritts. Crawford has been on the broadcast a number of times. We have teamed up with him in producing his own radio show for a number of years with Moody. Crawford and his wife, Karen, have been on the Weekend to Remember speaker team for more than 20 years. A great friend, we share the same birth date.
Bob: Somebody's year is a little earlier, isn't it?
Dennis: Crawford is much more immature.
Crawford: I'll take that, I'll take that.
Dennis: I'm ahead of him in the calendar flipping by a couple of years.
Crawford: That's the reason why I'm so respectful.
Dennis: It's interesting, I'm in a mentoring relationship with his son who is also born on the same day as Crawford and me.
Dennis: February 11.
Bob: And he's mentoring you?
Bob: Oh, you're mentoring …
Dennis: Thank you, Bob, for that vote of confidence.
Crawford: I just need the listeners to know that this is something, it's really an issue in my heart. I have no celebrated a birthday in 34 years because that boy was born on my birthday.
Dennis: I understand that you've been in competition.
Dennis: Crawford has finished a book that's called "For A Time We Cannot See, Living Today in the Light of Heaven."
Bob: It's about the sweet bye and bye.
Dennis: It is.
Crawford: That's right, that's right.
Bob: But you're not really pointing folks to exclude what life on earth should be all about by focusing on heaven, but in our longing for heaven, it gives meaning to what life on earth is all about.
Crawford: That's right. I'm calling people to give in to the longing. We all have it. I open a book by talking about that. We all have this nagging feeling, this longing, this – dare I say, this sense of destiny that's given to us the moment we give our lives to Jesus, and that's eternity that's placed in our hearts. And it's given to us for a reason. The gift of eternal life is both quantitative as well as qualitative. In other words, it's both the amount of time that I'm going to live forever with him, but it is the quality of life that I lived down here.
And it lines up with the mission of God in the world. That's the reason why we're salt and light. We are salt and light because we're representing to a fallen world what heaven looks like. That's the reason why Jesus says in the prayer that we call "The Lord's Prayer" – "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven," and those are the two wings of eternity.
And my issue and my concern about Christians today is that we are only flying with one wing, and so we think this stuff is terribly irrelevant, it doesn't relate to me now, yada yada yada, and so how do I wrestle with the issues today, and I say that's an unnecessary tension you have to live in.
Bob: Let me give you a couple of illustrations as to how – I've had a conversation recently where the light of eternity affects decision-making today. I got a phone call from my son, who is at college. This was several months ago. He said, "Dad, I'm thinking about pledging a fraternity," and I said, "Okay, let's talk about that. Why are you thinking about pledging a fraternity?"
He said, "Well, I've talked to guys, I talked to one of my uncles, and he said, you know, his best friends today are friends he knew from his fraternity. In fact, he made great business contacts in his fraternity, and his fraternity brothers, he's still in touch with them." So he said, "I'm thinking now that if I'm in a fraternity, I'll be making future business contacts. It will be something that I'll be able to – I'll have friends for life."
And I said, "Well, those aren't necessarily wrong motivations but," I said, "I have to tell you the motivation that I would go to. I would pull back and ask this question – where can I have the most impact for the Kingdom? In a fraternity or in my dorm or in some other setting? And that would drive my decision-making."
Crawford: I tell you, Bob, that is so big, that is so very, very big. We have got to stop a la carting our lives or compartmentalizing them. In other words, we make these decisions and choices day-to-day just reactionary or pragmatically or without very much forethought other than where this was going to position me in this life. You ought to be asking the bigger question – the bigger question is how does this choice and decision that I'm making today benefit what God wants to do through my life during my time down here?
Bob: Well, he called a few weeks later. He said, "You know, Dad, at the college where I go, you can spend a semester studying at a different college, even a more expensive college. You just pay the tuition for this college, and you can go spend a semester at another college," and I'm thinking about that, and I said to him, I said, "Well, you know, that's not a bad idea." I said, "I'd apply kind of the same criteria – what would do the most to advance the Kingdom? Should I be there or should I be here?"
I said, "What colleges were you thinking of?" And he said, "Well, there is one in the Virgin Islands, and there is one in Hawaii, and there is also one in San Diego." And he said, "They said if you sign up for your top three, you're sure to get one of them," and I'm going, "No, son, you've got the wrong motivation."
Crawford: Well, maybe not, I mean, those are little pictures of paradise and heaven.
Bob: Heaven on earth is what he's looking for.
Crawford: He ain't a dumb kid, man.
Dennis: Bob did not raise any dummy. You know, I want to kind of flip this thing over for a moment, Crawford, and I'm going to ask you to get very real.
Crawford: All right.
Dennis: And, Bob, you and I are going to answer the same question I'm about to ask Crawford.
Crawford: Should I call my lawyer before …
Dennis: You might want to. This is a pretty gritty question, because I'm not interested in any veneer, I want you to cut down to the chase about what really gets you. What distracts you? What distracts you in living in light of eternity? It's not just that you slayed the beast once, but you faced this giant many times in your life.
Crawford: Well, you know, Dennis, it is a weird paradox in me, okay? And I’m going to answer this question straight up. God has a sense of humor, because he's always put me in situations that require a great deal of faith. But, you know, the perennial issue in my life has been being secure with life. That has – and I feel it more now at this season in my life where we've got grandkids – wanting to make sure that I'm secure, that Karen is taken care of.
Now, in a certain sense, that is a legitimate concern, but there are times in which I think I am unduly concerned. It's almost like a little bit of spiritual schizophrenia where I bounce back and forth and so I fear, the older I get, Dennis and Bob, I fear this inordinate temptation to play it safe. And the last few years, that's been kind of …
Dennis: Become risk-adverse.
Dennis: In venturing out in the faith. I can really identify with what you're talking about, and I think a lot of our listeners can, too, because I think we have more today in America, and we're exposed to more in terms of lifestyle than maybe any generation in the history of the world in terms of the masses. What about for you, Bob, what trips you up?
Bob: I think that bleeds into it. I've been sitting here kind of going back and forth between two things. One is just enjoying life – there are thing about life that I enjoy. I remember reading through the Book of Ecclesiastes and finding liberation in Ecclesiastes where Solomon says, "You know, God gave you life to enjoy. There is nothing unspiritual about enjoying this life," but you can become focused on the enjoyment and forget the assignment, and that's where you're just – you're kind of enjoying and forget why you're here.
Crawford: Yes, and you're not saying this, but the assignment is the joy.
Bob: That's right.
Crawford: I don't want our listeners to feel like, all right, okay, you know, all right, I shouldn't save money, I shouldn't have vacation, I shouldn't enjoy the moment. No, no, no, no. God gives us all things to enjoy.
Bob: But I can be seduced by the temporal pleasure and miss the eternal joy that is in the assignment. There is something about the seduction of just the moment and that fleeting joy that ultimately leaves you feeling a little more empty when it's over than when you started as compared with the joy that comes from eternal things that leaves you feeling more satisfied for the future.
Crawford: You know, at the expense of sounding unhealthfully introspective, I really think that the answer for me comes when I constantly ask the why questions of myself. Crawford, why are you making that decision? Why are you doing that? Why are you choosing to believe that? Why are you thinking this way? Who are you really responding to? Who is telling you what to do?
And the more I ask myself those kinds of questions, the closer I am to being where I ought to be, and in a balanced way representing an eternal perspective on my moment in history.
Dennis: You know, as I listen to both you guys, I'm feeling like the chief of all sinners here if not in the country certainly here in the studio, because I can sure identify with both things you two men have shared, but I'm going to share a third one.
For me, the thing that trips me up are life's circumstances that I do not interpret by faith; that I don't look at from God's perspective, and do what the Scriptures tell me to do, which is give thanks in all things.
There is a statement that I used years and years ago, about 20 years ago in a message I gave to all the Campus Crusade for Christ staff at our annual conference. The statement goes like this – "We are worn down less by the mountain we climb than by the grain of sand in our shoe." And it's the grains of sand in my shoes that distract me. The mountain challenges me. I can identify the mountain because it's clearly visible, it's out there, God gives you the challenge, and it's like, "Okay, I need to respond by faith."
But the little gnats and the nits and some of them are the size of an elephant. I mean, they get pretty large at points. Some of the problems or circumstances that I face, but in living for eternity not properly looking at the circumstances God brings me to respond to in faith and give thanks to God for where He has me and what I'm facing.
Bob: Well, in light of that, let me ask both of you a question. Let's say there is someone who is listening, and their marriage is a difficult marriage. Let's say it's a spouse who is married to an untrustworthy husband; a woman who is married to a man that she just can't trust. She says, "I want to live with an eternal perspective, but the dailiness of the challenges that I'm facing keep taking my focus off of heaven and off of the Kingdom Assignment just to survive the realities of the day.
Crawford: Yes, and I would say to that person, number one, that to live with an eternal perspective is not to deny reality but to embrace reality. And I would encourage that person not to have a false sense of spirituality. You know, Jesus is the truth as well as the life, and to be able to take a look at your husband and to speak truth and try to get help in that area and to confront biblically is where we need to be. And so you can face that issue square on and deal with it.
The second thing that I would say that you do is that, you know, you go back to your marriage vows, and you live in light of commitment, and remember that you didn't make a negotiated agreement. It was a covenant relationship, a sacred, solemn, binding agreement, and that you frame the issues that you're facing with the permanence of God's Word, and that you step into the arena armed with that.
And then the other thing that I would say would be, you know, continue to feed your soul and get what you need to allow the experience, the pressure, the test, the trial, the pain that you're going through to drive you toward the heart of God and not to run from His heart.
Every issue in life is a sanctifying instrument. God uses every situation in life to make us more Christ-like, and God can hit a straight lick with a crooked stick, and there are some experiences that we have that we can't even talk about, but they are redemptive, and you've got to believe that.
Dennis: Crawford, as you were talking, I couldn't help but think of a passage you and I were talking about just before we came in here to go on air found in 1 Thessalonians, chapter 2, and the reason I like what you said is, especially your first point, is embrace reality, be authentic. Don't so spiritualize something as to try to deny its existence.
This is a pet peeve of mine about the Christian community. Sometimes, as we represent our faith, we can appear to be very inauthentic because we don't admit that you know what? I'm facing some tough stuff. And know there are no answers on this side of heaven for what I'm facing.
And it may be a child who has a disease, it may be the loss of a job for no good reason, it may be a health issue in you, it may be circumstances that spin out of control, and you just wonder what in the world is God doing?
But in that passage in 1 Thessalonians, chapter 2, Paul reminded those Christians that – he said, "You witnessed me and my life that I was authentic in my faith. You watched me obey, and you watched me be obedient to Christ," and I think one of the things Paul modeled is he was surrounded by other people of like faith and like mind.
If you're going to be in that situation like Bob described of a marriage that's tough, I think Crawford's advice is spot-on, but I also think you just add to that the fellowship of at least one, if not a body, of mature believers and followers of Christ who can give you courage to keep on when it looks hopeless.
And I don't care who you are. You can be the host of a radio broadcast on marriage and family, there isn't anybody who has all the answers.
Crawford: None, none, and pride is a very awful thing, isn't it? I mean, it's terrible, and it just alienates us and isolates us.
Bob: I'm sitting here thinking about the second verse of the hymn, "Great is Thy Faithfulness," which really points us to an eternal perspective. "Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth, those are for today, Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide, strength for today and bright hope …
Dennis: … for tomorrow.
Bob: For tomorrow. Blessings all mine with 10,000 beside." You know, if you look at what the benefit of the Gospel to us is, pardon for sin, strength for today, and hope for tomorrow. It really is about our forgiveness, our transformation, and our hope. And you take any one of those three as well as, and the Gospel is robbed of its glory.
Crawford: Yes, yes.
Bob: And the hope for tomorrow, which is where you're pointing us to, as we live with an eternal perspective, is a hope that doesn't just talk about the future, it's not like a trip you're going to go on that has no impact until you get on the plane. It's like a destination that influences every turn in the road of your journey today.
Dennis: And, Bob, that's one of the things I appreciate most about Crawford and especially what he's written in his book – what human being in their journey doesn't need a spiritual wheel alignment from time to time? We all hit chugholes. It knocks the wheels out of balance and out of alignment, and if you don't get your tires realigned, you know what happens. Well, think of what happens to a life. You can waste a life that isn't properly spiritually aligned.
What I would encourage you to do right now – pick up the phone, call 1-800-FLTODAY and just say you know what? Give me the CDs of these broadcasts and give me Crawford's book, "For a Time We Cannot See." You know why? Not because we're trying to sell a book. That's not the point. The point is we need believers on the playing field with the right game plan engaging the battle where they live, because this battle is not going to be won on a broadcast or at a radio station. It's going to be won in your home in your family and in your marriage – one heart and one home at a time.
Bob: Can they go to the website to order the book if they want, or do you want them to pick up the phone and call 1-800-FLTODAY? I'm just checking, because you told them …
Dennis: It's okay, it's okay, they can do the …
Bob: Which would you do? Online or website?
Dennis: I'd probably go Web.
Bob: Would you? Okay.
Dennis: I would. I just was passionate, and I just wanted to make the point.
Bob: Our Web address is FamilyLife.com, and if you go to our …
Dennis: I forgot about the Web. Come on, give me a break.
Bob: I'm just checking what you want.
Dennis: It's okay, it's all right, I don't do this normally like you do.
Crawford: Guys, guys, we're talking about heaven here.
Dennis: I'm not used to doing the close of the broadcast like you are.
Bob: All right, take your pick, folks – 1-800-FLTODAY or go online at FamilyLife.com. If you do go to the website, keep in mind the red "go" button that you see in the middle of the screen. That will take you to the area of the site where there is more information about Crawford's book. You can order online, if you'd like. The book, again, is called "For A Time We Cannot See," and it's on our website at FamilyLife.com. Click that red "go" button to get to the area of the site where you can order online or call us at 1-800-FLTODAY. 1-800-358-6329, that's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY.
You know, on the way to church this week, my wife and I were talking about stuff that was going on that was kind of a struggle for us, and she turned to me and said, "You know, we need to remember, we've got a lot of things to be thankful for." And she was right. We can get so focused on the challenges that we're experiencing in life that we forget the blessings of God, His faithfulness toward us, and the things we ought to be thankful for.
And I know one of the things we're thankful for here at FamilyLife is the folks who listen to this program who also help support this program. Those of you who call us from time to time or who contact us each month as Legacy Partners and make donations to the ministry of FamilyLife Today. Those donations keep us on the air on this station and on our entire network of stations all across the country, and we appreciate you standing with us through your donations to help make that happen.
This month, we want to make available a thank you gift, a way of saying thanks back to you when you make a donation of any amount for the ministry of FamilyLife Today. It's a DVD for your family called "The Very First Noel." It's an animated holiday special that presents the Christmas story in a fresh way. Andy Griffith narrates the story, and it's something we think your family will enjoy watching during the Christmas season. We'd love to send it out to you this month as a way of saying thank you for a donation of any amount for the ministry of FamilyLife Today, and you can make that donation online at FamilyLife.com.
If you do that, when you come to the keycode box on the donation form, just type in the word "noel" so that we know to send you a copy of this DVD. You can also call 1-800-FLTODAY, make a donation over the phone and just be sure to mention that you'd like a copy of the DVD we were talking about on the radio, and they'll know what you mean and be happy to send it to you. Again, we appreciate your partnership with us, and we thank you for listening to FamilyLife Today and for helping to support the ministry as well.
Well, tomorrow Dr. Crawford Loritts will be back with us, and we're going to talk about hope, what real biblical hope looks like and feels like and how it influences how we live. I hope you can join us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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