Independent from What?

In less than a week many Americans will join family and friends to grill hamburgers, slice open watermelons and watch fireworks explode.  This is the norm every year on the July 4th holiday, the day that we celebrate our independence.  More than any other year, I’m wondering what exactly it is that we are independent from.

I know the historical answer.  The holiday is meant for us to look back on our country’s battle for independence from the British throne.  Flowing from that, this is a great day for us to show our gratitude to the countless men and women who gave their lives to protect that freedom.  But I’m afraid that this holiday is becoming more like Columbus Day – a day devoted to something in the past that has very little practical meaning in our lives today.

Can you honestly say that you are independent from a centralized federal government that forces you to do things against your will?  If you think you are, see what happens when you decide not to send your tax dollars to organizations like Planned Parenthood this April 15.

Maybe it’s your religious independence that you’re celebrating.  After all, you can go to whatever church you want to, there isn’t a state sponsored church and you are free to worship how you choose.  Unless of course the God you worship is opposed to the killing of unborn babies.  In that case, maybe you’re not as free as you thought you were.

But at least you still have your privacy.  That is, just so long as you’ve managed to take yourself off the grid and move into an underground bunker.  Just a year ago, talk of our own government putting thousands of spy drones into the skies to keep an eye on American citizens seemed like crazy talk.  It is crazy, but sadly, it’s also true.

By now you’ve heard all about the Supreme Court’s historic decision to uphold President Obama’s healthcare law.  Some are calling this the largest tax increase in world history.  With this law, our own government has taken away something as basic as our freedom to decide how, when and where we will take care of our own health.  The erosion of our freedoms didn’t begin this week.  But maybe the events of this week, along with others like the ones I’ve cited above, will stir some of us to consider just how dependent we have become.

Before we begin to put our hope in the Republican nominee for president, let us not forget who it was that nominated the Chief Justice that sided with the majority in yesterday’s ruling.  When the masses pledge their devotion to a party, establishment or lesser of two evils without first considering the liberties that may be sacrificed with that devotion, those liberties almost always slip away.

We should all still gather with our family and friends for hamburgers, watermelons and fireworks this Independence Day.  We must celebrate and give thanks to God for the men who initially fought for our independence as well as for those who have fought to maintain it.  But if we wish to celebrate any independence that we think we currently have, for the most part, we’ll only be kidding ourselves.

Thank God that Jesus Christ is still sovereign, whether or not we like the decisions made by our government.

Thank God that one day real independence will finally and forever come, not from any political ruler but from the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Austin’s Power

By my estimation there are currently 7,532 singing competitions on American television.  Austin French had a chance to be on one of them.  Actually, he had two chances.  Two times he walked into some studio with the potential of later becoming a household name and both times he walked out exactly the way he came in – a talented musician from Georgia that most people haven’t heard of.

Austin’s first shot at fame was last year.  Of the thousands of musicians slated to audition that day, Austin would be one of the last.  By the time his turn came the judges were tired and ready to go home.  He gave it his best shot but they weren’t impressed.  At least not at first.

After the weariness of listening to auditions all day had worn off the judges reviewed tape of some of the performances they had seen.  This time they were very impressed with Austin.  Impressed enough to give him another chance.  There was only one problem.  A producer brought it to everyone’s attention that the judge’s initial decisions were final.  If Austin wanted to win this particular competition he would have to wait until the next season.  Before he flew back to Georgia, the show’s producers would make sure that would happen.

Recently, Austin got his second chance.  This time, because the show’s producers made a point to have Austin out for this round of auditions, there would be no flying under the radar.  This was a slam dunk.  All Austin had to do was audition and he was virtually guaranteed a spot on the show.

But then there was another message from a producer.

Through all of this time Austin remained very outspoken about his faith in Jesus Christ.  As you can imagine there were some who embraced Austin’s faith and there were some who didn’t.  The show’s producers feared that most of America would not embrace Austin’s devotion to Christ.  That’s when they told him that he was more than welcome to remain devoted to Christ off camera as long as he adopted a bad boy image on camera.

Right then, in the heat of the moment and with the glories that come with musical stardom literally glittering before his eyes, Austin had a decision to make.  Either he could put his faith on the shelf to achieve a dream or he could stay true to who he was and potentially lose his final chance at making it big.

After Austin’s first audition, he was rejected by the show.  Before his second audition, he rejected the show.  No public exposure.  No prize money.  No tour.  No contract.  Just the peace of mind that comes with staying true to who you are in Christ and not bowing the knee to fortune and fame.

Austin is back in Georgia now, playing a few shows with his band and trying to figure out what to do for college in the fall.

This is the part where I’m supposed to tell you that we need more Austins, that America would be better if we had more like him.  While that may be true, it’s not likely to happen.  I don’t say that because I’ve given up on Austin’s generation.  I say it because guys like Austin, guys that are willing to take a stand and remain committed to Christ even when it costs them everything, will always be in the minority.  And that’s the beauty of Austin’s story.  He went on a television show that would have put him in the public eye if he would only agree to keep his faith private.  But in the end, Austin resolved that a faith that’s not lived out publicly can’t really be lived out privately either.

I hear a lot about musicians being real.  We’re supposed to believe that some country singer is real because he sings about a tractor.  We’re supposed to believe that a rapper is real because he talks about his rough childhood.  I’ve got my doubts.  But not about Austin French.  Whether he ever hits it big or not, I’ll always know that Austin is real because when it mattered the most, he said with Paul, “whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ” (Philippians 3:7).

Click here for more information regarding Austin and his band.

Subversive Kingdom by Ed Stetzer: A Book Review

Many Christians use the phrase kingdom of God a lot like some politicians use words like freedom and liberty.  They sound nice but there’s usually an agenda attached.  For some, the kingdom of God means the Church while others use it in reference to a political utopia where every elected official votes the right way and all social problems are gone.  While these types of interpretations contain some truth they certainly aren’t the truth.

In his book Subversive Kingdom, Ed Stetzer gives us the truth about the kingdom of God as well as what impact it should have on individual Christians and the Church as a whole.  Anyone who cares to know more about the kingdom of God and their role in it would be doing themselves a favor by reading this very accessible book.

Stetzer starts out by explaining what the kingdom of God is.  The kingdom of God is not the Church although the Church is a result of the kingdom of God.  The kingdom of God is not political reform because, frankly, there hasn’t been true political reform since Adam and Eve sinned.  Instead, Stetzer describes the kingdom of God as the pushing back of this world’s darkness with the light of Christ or “rebelling against the rebellion.”  This pushing back or rebelling, while already happening, will not finally be complete until the return of Christ.

Subversive Kingdom is not a textbook.  What makes this book really good is that Stetzer is not content with simply defining the kingdom of God and talking about how great it is and will be.  Stetzer writes as though he intended for his readers to walk away not only with a better understanding of what the kingdom of God is but also what the believer’s role is in that kingdom.

“We are obsessed today with making our churches attractive to others.  Yet the secret to the viral gospel influence of postresurrection kingdom citizens was not the meetings in their churches but their everyday lives.”

Usually when people say things like that, they’re about to declare war on the Church and tell us that we don’t need it as long as we just live for Jesus on our own.  That’s not the case in Subversive Kingdom.  Stetzer is simply pointing out that it does no good for a church to attract a bunch of people when most of the leadership of that church and its members are living their daily lives as if they belong to the kingdom of Me instead of the kingdom of Christ.

When individual Christians covenant together in their local churches to live out the kingdom of Christ in their everyday lives, that church is changed in such a way that an impact is felt in the surrounding community and around the world.

“Because actually, the church doesn’t have a mission; the mission has a church.  God, who by nature is on purpose and on task, has invited people like us, gathered in churches like ours, to join him in fulfilling his chief desire.  And that mission is this: for God to be glorified.”

The kingdom of God is a weighty topic but what makes Stetzer’s book stand out is his ability to address it in an easy to read style that goes beyond the academic to the practical without betraying biblical foundations.  Christians at all stages of their walk with Christ will always need help when it comes to living out their calling as kingdom agents.  Ed Stetzer’s Subversive Kingdom will prove to be a tremendous aide to the Church until our King returns to finally and forever establish his perfect kingdom.

Gray is the Color of Grace

“He’s old now so this may be his last chance at a world number one ranking and at his age, that’s a real accomplishment.”

That’s what one sports talk radio host said yesterday morning regarding Roger Federer’s chances at this year’s Wimbledon.  It almost made me drive my truck into a ditch.  I didn’t have a problem with his opinion on Federer’s chances at Wimbledon.  What do I care about golf anyway?  I’m joking.  What shocked me was that Roger Federer was being talked about like he’s one step away from riding around in a Rascal Scooter and paying closer attention to Wilford Brimley “die-uh-beat-us” commercials.

Roger Federer is thirty-years-old.

I’m thirty-six.

I quickly changed the station.

A lot of people are scared of growing old, or even worse, looking old.  This is why companies like Just For Men exist and it’s why people say things like, “This is my fifth 29th birthday.”  We just can’t seem to be happy with our age.  When we were kids, we wanted to be older so we could be treated like adults.  Once we became adults, we started missing the glory days of adolescence.  Some have tried to fight this by dragging adolescence well into their 30s and 40s.

Certainly God has to want us to do more with our adulthood than just trying to convince ourselves that we’re really not that old.  Even though a lot of what comes with aging is a product of the fallen world we live in, it can’t be all bad.  Instead of dreading our next birthday, maybe there’s another option.  Is it possible to actually embrace growing old?  I think so and here are two reasons why.

1.  Grace

I had an older brother.  A lot of my friends don’t even know that.  He only lived for a few minutes after he was born.  If you go to the cemetery where my mother is buried you’ll see a very small marble slab that says, “Jeffery Scott Sanders – Our Little Angel.”  As best as I can understand it, my mother got measles during the pregnancy and things got complicated.  She survived but he didn’t.

Every time I see yet another gray hair pop up on my head I’m reminded that that could have been me lying beneath that slab.  I don’t know why God, in his perfect sovereignty, saw fit to take my older brother and keep me but he did.  Each new day that passes, and the negatives of age that come with it, is an undeserved gift from God.  I’m not as energetic as I once was and it’s starting to take me longer to recover after a long run but God has been faithful to me for over thirty-six years and has not failed me once.  With that in mind, getting down about another birthday doesn’t make a lot of sense.

2.  Need

In his excellent book Generation iY, Tim Elmore points out that the average teenager looks up to or is mentored by people his own age.  Watch shows like MTV’s Teen Mom and notice who most of these kids get their advice from.  Other kids.  Most of what we see on reality TV is the furthest thing from reality but unfortunately, this one is on the money.

This generation of children, teenagers and even young adults needs older people.  They need direction from people with wrinkled skin, aching muscles and scars.  In the context of church, rather than being segregated away from the rest of the body, children and teenagers need to actually be with and learn from the adults in their church.  They need to see what it looks like when men and women, gray hair and all, worship Jesus together.

At the church where I pastor, I begin each Sunday morning worship service by inviting any able bodied man to come forward and pray that Jesus would be glorified and that the enemy would be rebuked during and because of our time of worshiping together.  A few weeks ago, my six-year-old son asked if he could come down and pray with the other men.  I was thrilled and I gave him the green light.  The only problem was that there was nobody to take him down.  He didn’t feel comfortable going by himself and I was up on the platform.  The result was one very upset little boy.

Last Sunday I planned ahead.  I asked my friend Alan if he could meet my son on his way down and take him the rest of the way.  Before I started to pray, I looked over the 15 or 20 men who came down and had already begun praying.  One of those men was kneeling with my son, petitioning the Father.

I don’t know if there’s a better place for our sons and daughters to be than surrounded by older men and women who may have passed their prime in some other areas but who can and do still regularly kneel before the Father in prayer.

In less than a month I’ll turn 37.  Feel free to buy me a present but just don’t get me any Just For Men.  I kind of like my gray hair.  It has a way of reminding me that God has been good to me and that I have a younger generation to reach.

Watch Your Language

Every bride-to-be says the same thing about her wedding.

“I just want it to be simple and elegant.”

No bride ever says of her wedding, “I just hope the whole thing turns out complicated and kind of trashy.”  Well, maybe one of the girls on Jersey Shore but you get my point.

Every man says the same thing about marriage.

“My love languages are physical touch and words of affirmation.”

The term love language was coined by Gary Chapman in his book The Five Love Languages.  The basic point of the book is that people communicate love in different ways and in order for a marriage to work a couple has to know how best to express love, or in Chapman’s words, speak one another’s love language.  Those five love languages are words of affirmation, physical touch, receiving gifts, quality time and acts of service.

Most men don’t need to bother with reading the book to figure out what their love language is.  They can go without getting gifts, being served and quality time as long as their wives rub all over them while telling them how studly they are.  And if the wife could somehow manage to at the same time throw in the sixth love language, chicken wings, the marriage will really take off.

While Chapman makes some good points, we must be on the alert.  If we’re not careful we may find that our real love language is having our ego stroked.  It’s very important for my wife to know what I like but I also have to remember that while I am a part of the marriage and my feelings do matter, there is more to marriage than having my needs met.

The ultimate goal of marriage is to serve as a demonstration of the gospel.  The gospel reminds me that Christ loved me and died for me while I was still a sinner.  To put it another way, Jesus showed his love for me even when I didn’t care anything about speaking his love language (Romans 5:6-11).

What if we became less concerned with whether or not our marriage partner was speaking our love language?  What if instead, we made it our priority to speak the language of the cross and meet our significant other where they are with sacrificial, Christ-like love?  Maybe then Christian marriages would begin to look less like the rest of the world and more like the perfect picture of love that Jesus gave us on Calvary where he died for his bride.

Cursing Grandma: The New Normal

I just finished watching the latest viral video.  Sadly, this one doesn’t have a girl in a beauty pageant saying something dumb or a guy falling down the stairs.  In this video, several middle schoolers are verbally abusing their school bus monitor.  The bus monitor, Karen Klein, is a 68 year-old widow and grandmother of eight.  Her son committed suicide ten years ago.

During the ten minute verbal assault, one of the kids tells Klein, “You don’t have a family because they all killed themselves because they didn’t want to be near you.”

The other nine minutes and 50 seconds of this video probably contains more profanity than the typical 90 minute long R rated movie.

As disturbing as this video is, I don’t think we have any reason to be surprised.  When understood in the context of our culture and all that we seem to reject and accept, what these kids did was completely natural.  On to the next viral video please.

There are plenty of directions for our accusatory fingers to point.  No doubt, what with this being an election year and all, Bush, Obama and Romney will probably have some blame thrown their way.  But we can be sure of this, in a society where fathers are increasingly absent, this is the new normal.

I don’t know the first thing about this group of bullies or their families.  Maybe they all live at home with a dad, mom, sister and a dog.  Big deal.  Our problem is not just that dad isn’t around but that when dad is around, he isn’t really around.  In the Bible, men are called to lead their home.  That means that a man should sacrificially and lovingly lead his wife (Ephesians 5:25) while bringing up his children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” without provoking them to anger (Ephesians 6:4).

More and more, even in situations where the father is present, the roles of leader and primary instructor of the children is left to the mother.  Or the grandparents.  Or Dottie May’s 24 Hour Learning and Child Development Center.  Remind me again why it is that we are surprised by this video?

I grew up in a single parent home so my talk about the crisis of missing fathers is not academic.  It’s personal.  Yes kids can and have thrived without a strong fatherly presence but if I may speak from firsthand experience, it’s a long and hard battle.  And yes, the presence of a strong, loving, Bible-believing father is no guarantee that children will grow up to be Jesus-loving good citizens but experience shows us that it certainly helps.

I never imagined that I would have a family like the one I do.  I eat most of my meals with my wife and two sons.  A lot of the food for those meals came from our garden.  Some of the bread for our meals was made by my wife when she had a few free minutes between cleaning and homeschooling our boys.  Mine is the family that my wife and I both would have made fun of when we first got married.  For the record, my wife does not own a denim jumper.

The issue isn’t whether or not kids should be taught at home, in private schools or public schools.  I believe that God can and does honor all three options.  I hope this video forces us to consider the importance of fathers before we turn our attention to school choices.  You can homeschool your kid all you want but if the father is failing in his responsibility to sacrificially lead his family like Jesus leads the church, those precious homeschooled kids won’t turn out much different than the ones who were yelling at their bus monitor.

The missing dad epidemic, to the church’s shame, isn’t just the world’s problem.  In some churches, the first talk of a man’s responsibility to be a leader sparks a contentious debate.  I talked to one pastor recently who was asked to leave his church simply for suggesting that his church needs more male leadership.  Even worse are the Christian dads that see no problem in driving their kids all over the state for another tournament or performance but can’t even manage to read the Bible and pray with those same kids just one night a week.

A home where the father is present, engaged and leading, regardless of whether the wife makes her own bread and the children are homeschooled is an abnormal home in our culture.  Today’s normal home looks much different and tends to produce kids like we see in this most recent viral video.

Fathers, it is our job to sacrificially lead in order to ensure that our homes not be normal.

If You Ever Say Something Mean About Lance Armstrong

If you ever say something mean about Lance Armstrong and get questioned about it later on during a nationally syndicated radio show and lie to try to cover up for the mean thing you said about Lance Armstrong and then you get caught in that lie there’s probably only one thing left for you to do.

Blame the whole thing on the Spanish language.

The Secret to My Superior Humility

People are always saying to me, “Jay, you’re the most humble person I know.  What’s your secret?”

Well, they don’t actually say that to me but I can tell by looking at them that they really want to say it.  Anyway, the secret to my superior humility is running in races.  More specifically, it’s the people who finish before me when I run in races.  Here are a few of those kind folks.

Deathbed Man

This guy started getting his AARP magazine a few decades ago but still he’s able to run in a race without his shirt.  Maybe I shouldn’t use the word run.  I think shuffle is a better term.  Oh, and every five minutes or so Deathbed Man would let out a loud grunt that led me to believe that he was going to fall over dead at any minute.  Imagine the ethical dilemma with that one.  Well, he never did fall over and I never did catch him.

Thanks for making me more humble Deathbed Man.

And thanks for not dying on me.

Biggest Looser Man

This man looked like he had been on The Biggest Looser.  For about a week.  He too was running shirtless.  This particular race was a longer one so I was able to talk to Biggest Looser Man a little bit.  He told me that he was in the process of loosing weight and was running in this half marathon as a tune up for a full blown marathon.  And that’s when he dropped this little number on me.

“Well, see you later.”

He sped up and I never saw him again.

Somebody’s Grandmother

I met this lady in the same race that I met Biggest Looser Man.  She came running by me right around the time that I thought I was seeing Father Abraham in the sky.  She looked like she had been reading Janette Oke books all day.  Not a drop of sweat on her.  Well, maybe there was when she finished the race but like I said about everyone else, I never saw her again.

There’s the secret.  If you want to have superior humility, the kind like I have, you should run in races.  Just remember that halfway through the race, you’ll probably think that you’re almost done.  You will tell yourself that you are going to catch the crazy person in front of you and that you can coast the rest of the way to the finish line.  Do not listen to your body.

Humility works the same way.  When you do something sacrificial your flesh will try to convince you that you’re finally winning the run for humility.  If you start believing this, that’s usually a pretty good indicator that you’ve never even left the starting line.

The real secret to superior humility is that once you realize that you have it, you really don’t have it.

Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.
(Daniel 4:37 ESV)

 

Ministry Porn

The deception is powerful. It sucks you into an imaginary land where the hardships of reality are replaced with the pleasure and power of fantasy. But when you take the bait and believe in the fantasy, nothing is real for you anymore.

These are the ways of ministry porn. Instead of an image on a screen or in a magazine in the fantasy world of ministry porn you lead the biggest church in town and speak at all the conferences.  Ministry porn denies the reality in which God has placed you and replaces it with the fantasy of being a little more influential, powerful, popular and gifted. The deception is that achieving these things will give you fulfillment and perhaps even make God like you more.

I’m addicted to ministry porn.

I grew up in the church hearing about pastors going to the grocery store to buy milk only to end up sharing the gospel with the checkout lady, her manager and the CEO of the store. They all got saved.

On a side note, when I go to the store to buy milk I use self-checkout and it always breaks. User error. No one ever gets saved.

I know pastors that are having a hard time keeping up with God’s numerical blessings on their church. What started as 10 people meeting in somebody’s basement three years ago has become a very large, God-honoring church that is making an impact in the community and around the world.

I sometimes listen to great pastors who seem to never strike out on Sunday mornings. Every sermon is a homerun and the tens of thousands of other people downloading those sermons seem to feel the same way.

If I’m completely honest with myself, that’s where I want to be. If only I had the kind of personality that could leave a lasting impact on people after just a few minutes in the grocery store. If only I was a better leader that knew how to draw larger crowds. If only I was a more talented and gifted expositor and speaker. And so goes the plunge into fantasyland.

Maybe I should convince myself that smaller is better and criticize every church that’s bigger and every leader that’s more gifted. Better yet, maybe I could just do nothing, call it a lack of selfish ambition and act like slow or no results are signs of holiness. But to do these things is to deny God’s sovereign and unique blessing on each person, church and ministry. It is replacing one fantasy world for another.

God has a way of jerking me back into reality.

Here’s how that looks.

Of all the human beings on the planet today, the man that I look up to the most is Turk Holt. Turk was my youth pastor before I was even a youth. He taught me how to read my Bible, he taught me how to develop a sermon and by example he is still showing me from a distance what it looks like to be committed to Jesus.

Turk is real. That’s not to say that the big name Christian leaders are not real. It’s just to say that I tend to idealize their situations. Because I don’t know them, I never think about the fact that they too have to pay bills, deal with disgruntled church members and manage a busy schedule. I just think about how cool it would be to have their position and influence.

Turk is real because I know him. I know what it was like to drive around in his Ford Taurus that smelled like Cool Ranch Doritos. I know that through his severe back pains, he still loves Jesus and his family. I know that he never came up in any conversations in my seminary classes and he doesn’t speak at a whole lot of conferences. But Turk loves Jesus and he loves Jesus’ church and seeing that helps bring me back to reality.

And so I’m left with a few questions to ask myself. What if, like Turk, I never get asked to turn my latest sermon into a book? What if, like Turk, I never speak at a huge conference? What if the church I pastor never sets any record for baptisms? What if the lady at the store rejects my gospel presentation and tells me that I’m no longer allowed to use the self-checkout machine? What if I simply love and lead my wife and kids, pastor Jesus’ church and never hear the world or even the church tell me what a good job I’ve done?

Thanks for the example, Turk. In word and in deed you have shown me that praise and approval of other people doesn’t really matter a whole lot. You have shown me that it’s quite all right to go unnoticed by this world because on the day that I leave it, because of Christ, I’ll hear the only affirmation that really matters.

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’” Matthew 25:23

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American Idiot

I had just spent a little over a week in Africa training pastors and visiting orphanages.  It was time to come back home and I was angry.  After spending several days seeing countless orphans and a lot of pastors with half of their Bible missing, I was disgusted with American excess and materialism.  I couldn’t wait to see my family again but I didn’t feel the same way about the American way of life I grew up in.

As I sat on the airplane that would carry me out of Africa, stewing in my righteous indignation, my anger was quickly redirected.  The movie screen in front of me wasn’t working properly.

How was I supposed to survive a long flight without watching the new Will Smith movie?

Now I’m going to have to use up the battery on my iPod.

I think these are called first world problems.

This is when I realized that the American materialism and excess that I was dreading coming back home to was already with me on the plane.  It was in my heart.

I was the American Idiot.

I was trying to have it both ways.  I was angry at American greed but only as long as it was the type of greed that acquired the kinds of things that I couldn’t afford.  Certainly my iPod and in flight movie were completely harmless.

It’s easy, even fashionable in some circles, to take shots at the American way of life as if the real problem lies with the culture or the establishment instead of in our own hearts.  Sure, most of those shots are well deserved but even if I get rid of everything I own and move to another country but fail to address the nature of my heart, I’ve done nothing (1 Corinthians 13:3).  On the other end of the spectrum, there’s the tendency to worship the American lifestyle.  We sing God Bless the USA without ever asking ourselves what it is that we want God to bless.  Do we want him to show his favor on our government sanctioned mass murder of unborn babies?  Maybe we’d like his hand of blessing on the corruption or sexual idolatry that has become a way of life in our country.  Would we ask God to bless a nation with this track record if it was not our own?

Christians would do well to remember that this world is not our home.  We are just passing through.  That does not mean that we should not work to make things better or that we should not appreciate the many ways that God has blessed us.  It just means that we long for a kingdom that is not of this world while remembering that even the best this world can offer will not measure up to the city where there is, “no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Revelation 21:22).