Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Story of God: Daniel

There is a story called "If You Give a Pig a Pancake."  I used to read it to my kids.  The premise is pretty simple.  If you give a pig a pancake, he'll want syrup.  This means he will get sticky and then need a bath.  If he takes a bath he will see the rubber duck in the tub and it will remind of life on the farm.  Then...well you get it.

If you pick up the story in the end and you see a house destroyed by a pig, you won't realize that it all began with a pancake.

Daniel was a young man when the Jewish people were taken away and exiled to Babylon.  Daniel lived his life as an outsider.  He lived in a place that did not recognize, much less worship his God.  This strange place did not honor his heritage or even speak his language.  But read this:

So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.  Daniel 6:28

Daniel had personal success in a time of collective disappointment.  The entire nation of Israel mourned its loss of identity.  Many gave up hope.  But Daniel thrived.

So maybe I should ask the question, "What’s my excuse?"  I may have all kinds of reasons that I'm not successful right now.  But when I look at Daniel's situation, it seems that my reasons are really just excuses.

In fact, Daniel became such an influential person that after one miraculous experience, the king actually turned his nation to God.

Then King Darius wrote to all the nations and peoples of every language in all the earth: “May you prosper greatly! 26 “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. “For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end.  Daniel 6:25-26

Daniel changed a nation by being himself!  He simply took advantage of the opportunities in front of him and made a difference.  Could there possibly be areas of influence in my life that I'm neglecting?  I may be waiting to be crowned king but God is waiting on me to honor the influential moments He has already given me.  I don't have to be king to shake the kingdom.

So what happened that allowed Daniel to have this moment?

Daniel was given a choice. He could bow to His God or he could bow to the king.  A law had been issued that outlawed prayer to the God of Israel.  If anyone bowed to anyone or anything other than the king, he would be thrown into a pit filled with hungry lions.

Daniel chose faithfulness to God.  He was thrown into the pit.  But God was with him.  The morning after he was given over to the lions, the king looked into the pit and saw that Daniel was alive!  The king said, "What happened?"  Daniel responded.

"My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”  Daniel 6:22

Daniel experienced miracles because of his faithfulness.  It makes me wonder where I have given up. In what area of my life have I thrown in the towel.  The truth is that everything is possible.  There are no lost causes.  Maybe I will see a miracle if I can muster the strength to believe and to stand.

But how is this possible?  How does someone find the will to walk with God in the face of opposition like that?  It's not normal.  What was the secret to Daniel's success?

Daniel's "pancake" moment was at the beginning.  Back at the start, Daniel set things in motion.  He set himself up for success with a simple decision.  Back when the banning of prayer was first announced.

Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.   Daniel 6:10

The key is in the phrase "just as he had done before."  Daniel disciplined himself to pray and depend on God long before there was opposition or trouble.  He did not wait until the storm came to develop his shelter.  Strength is not developed on stage.  Strength is developed in the quiet private moments that no one else sees.  It is forged in small decisions to honor God and chase faithfulness.

My strength for tomorrow is being determined by the decisions I am making today.

Everybody gets religious in the lion’s den.  But if I wait until then to strengthen my faith, I miss the beauty of Daniel's story.  It all began on a boring Tuesday morning (perhaps) when he made the simple choice to fall on his face before God.  Not because of impending doom.  Not because his life was on the line.  But out of obedience and a desire to know God.

The result was that he changed the world.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Story of God: Jeremiah

The word of the Lord came to me, saying, 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” 6 “Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” 7 But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. 9 Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. 10 See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” Jeremiah 1:4-10


During the reign of King Josiah, the Lord said to me, “Have you seen what faithless Israel has done? She has gone up on every high hill and under every spreading tree and has committed adultery there. 7 I thought that after she had done all this she would return to me but she did not, and her unfaithful sister Judah saw it. 8 I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery. 9 Because Israel’s immorality mattered so little to her, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stone and wood.10 In spite of all this, her unfaithful sister Judah did not return to me with all her heart, but only in pretense,” declares the Lord.  Jeremiah 3:6-10


Therefore the Lord Almighty says this: “Because you have not listened to my words, 9 I will summon all the peoples of the north and my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon,” declares the Lord, “and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants and against all the surrounding nations. I will completely destroy them and make them an object of horror and scorn, and an everlasting ruin. 10 I will banish from them the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, the sound of millstones and the light of the lamp.11 This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.  Jeremiah 25:8-11

The unthinkable had happened.  Israel was no more.  God had allowed Assyria to overtake her as a form of discipline.  Only 400 years after David was crowned king and the struggle appeared to be over, the dream was over.

Jeremiah preached to the southern kingdom of Judah.  It's king, Josiah, listened and led the people to change its ways.  He certainly didn't want the southern people to experience the same things their brothers in the north endured.  But after Josiah's death, things returned to form and the downward spiral continued.

But the people struggled to understand God's actions.  It didn't seem fair.  Why would God allow His own people to suffer that way?  And how could He use enemy armies in the process?  The punishment didn't seem to fit the crime.

It's here that one very important truth is revealed.


This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” 3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. 5 Then the word of the Lord came to me. 6 He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.  Jeremiah 18:1-6

GOD DID NOT NEED THE PEOPLES’ PERMISSION OR BLESSING.  Because, through the years, God had been patient and had always been quick to give mercy, the people got the wrong idea. They seemed to think God had relinquished control to them.  They felt free to determine their own destiny.  Free will can be confusing at times.  But GOD’S PATIENCE PLUS MY FREEDOM DOES NOT EQUAL AUTHORITY.

If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, 8 and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. 9 And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, 10 and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.  Jeremiah 18:7-10

Now that's good news.  God is willing to change the path.  His ultimate plan will remain.  He will see to it that we arrive at the planned destination.  But He has not set the path in stone.


After Judah was taken captive and many of the people taken off to Babylon, Jeremiah sent a letter.

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”  Jeremiah 29:4-7


It would have been easy for the people to give up.  To accept their place and quit trying.  To cry, moan, and mourn.  But God said, "Nope.  As difficult as things are, I expect you to choose joy.  Give honor to those around you.  Live with faith!  And untimely, believe that a blessing is on the way.

This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place.11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”  Jeremiah 29:10-14


Be patient and trust His plan.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Story of God: Isaiah

We expect our eye doctors to wear nice glasses.  We expect our dentists to have white teeth.  We expect our orthodontists to have straight teeth.  We expect the employees at the gym to look fit.  We expect the greeters at church to...well...not be grumpy.

We have expectations about the people who fill roles.  Doctors should look a certain way.  Athletes should look a certain way.  Teachers.  Librarians.  Lawyers.  We expect people to be obviously qualified for their positions.

At a time in history when God's people were divided, lost, and broken, God selected someone to serve as His tool in the re-building process.

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.  Isaiah 6:1-4

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”  Isaiah 6:8

GOD WAS WILLING TO BRING HEALING AND HOPE.  The problem was that all candidates for the job were also broken.  That included Isaiah.  In this story, God reminds us that God uses the broken to heal the broken.  

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”  Isaiah 6:5-7

God did not respond by telling him, "It's okay.  You're innocent."  Instead, God responded by removing his guilt.  That's mercy.

In choosing to use broken people to heal broken hearts, God is assuming all the risk.  That kind of plan seems flawed.  But God does not see it that way.  He knows He is in control.

Over and over, God has shown his willingness to use fractured people to heal broken hearts

There is no reason for me not to be a world changer.  I have no excuse!

I can sit back and say:

"I'm not qualified."
"I'm not well enough."
"My life is too messed up."

Or I can trust God to qualify me and get to work!

God will declare me worthy to give hope.  God will make me fit to bring healing.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Story of God: Jonah

The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah ran away from the Lord…  Jonah 1:1-3

Why run from the assignment?  After all, the people of Israel were not fond of the people of Assyria. And the opportunity to go preach against the Assyrians should have been a great way to stick it to them!

But Jonah knew what was involved in this preaching assignment.  It was not only telling them that they were living in rebellion against God.  It was also inviting them to come to God and find mercy.

So Jonah ran.

He didn't want to love those people.  He did not want to see them changed.  He was content to write them off and never think about them again.

Running was his way of pouting.  Of expressing his arrogance.  Of expressing denial.

There are so many people I want to see God love…Cute fatherless kids.  Homeless and hungry veterans.  Underdogs and misfits.  Athletes and movie stars.  And a few rock bands.

I’m not as eager to see God’s love wrap around people who bully, mistreat, manipulate, and mock others.  I can feel Jonah's pain.

Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.  Jonah 1:17

Jonah ran because he did not love.  But he could not outrun God's capacity to love.

I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down til the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit.  Jonah 2:4-6

When we abandon mission and purpose, we are the ones who feel abandoned

“Those who regard worthless idols forsake their own mercies.”  Jonah 2:8 

Holding on to anything that God has not said,"yes" to or anything that God has said “no” to, will keep you from knowing Him as He wants you to know Him.

In fact, it is as if you are choosing your idol over His mercies.

What is in your hand?  Stubbornness?  Bitterness?  Anger?

Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh.  Jonah 3:1-3

When God restores us, and stands us back up, we will be changed.  But our mission may not change at all.  God told Jonah to go do the exact thing He originally asked him to do.

And, just as Jonah had feared, the people accepted the message with open hearts.

When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.  Jonah 3:10

Obedience and change makes a difference.

But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”  Jonah 4:1-3

Jonah had created an image of God that was not true.  He was attempting to serve a god who agreed with his ideas of justice and acceptance.  Jonah had created an idol.

If I worship a God that loves only who I love and gives mercy only to those who deserve it, I have created an idol.

The Story of God: Elisha

Israel was at war with Aram.  The king of Aram was certain there must be a spy in his kingdom.  Why?  Because each time the armies of Aram arrived at the spot where Israel was supposedly camped, no one was there.  There was evidence that their enemy had been there.  But they were too late.  Again and again it happened.

This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, “Tell me! Which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?” “None of us, my lord the king,” said one of his officers, “but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.” “Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.”  
2 Kings 6:11-13

There was no Aramean spy.  It was the Israeli prophet named Elisha.  God was guiding Elisha and Elisha was guiding the movement of the army of Israel.

When Elisha’s location was reported to the Aramean king, an army of horses and chariots was sent to the location.  They surrounded the city…and the home of Elisha.

When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.  “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.   2 Kings 6:15-16

Come again?  What did you say Elisha?  The servant must have thought poor Elisha was losing it!

”And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.  
2 Kings 6:17

How was Elisha able to see God's protection?  How was he able to see something that others could not see?  Elisha viewed life through the eyes of God

How was that possible?

Perhaps it goes back to two pivotal moments in Elisha's life.

1.  When the time of previous prophet of Israel, Elijah, was coming to an end, he went to Elisha and symbolically passed the torch to him.  Elisha ran home and told his family goodbye.  Then…

So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.  1 Kings 19:21

Elisha left everything.  He basically locked up his old life and threw away the key.  He was all in!

Elisha had empty hands
He was not clinging to anything from his past that would distract him from being a man of God.

2.   Right before Elijah left this world, he asked Elisha if he understood that the time was coming for Elisha to lead without him.  Elisha understood.  They came to the Jordan River and Elijah slapped the water with his coat.  The water parted.  Elijah and Elisha walked across.

When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?” “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.  2 Kings 2:9

Elisha's one request was to live the life Elijah lived (and then some).  He had respectfully take notes of how Elijah lived.  He was in awe of Elijah's connection with God and reliance on God's Spirit.

Elisha had a teachable spirit

Elisha could see through God’s eyes because He was free.  He had emptied himself of everything he had.  He had filled himself with only what God’s spirit had taught him.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Story of God: Elijah

Solomon had been dead for 50 years.  The kingdom was divided.  There was a northern kingdom and a southern kingdom.

Ahab was the northern king.  He worshiped Baal ( the god of his wife's people).  In doing so, Ahab became the most ungodly king that God's people had ever had.

A prophet named Elijah spoke for God.  He pronounced to King Ahab and Queen Jezebel that drought and famine were on their way.

Jezebel responded by setting out on a mission to execute all of God's prophets.  Elijah ran for his life.

Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah:  “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan.  You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.”  So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there.  The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.  1 Kings 17:1-6

God’s faithfulness is felt in the shadows

As much as we want to feel God in a classroom…or on a beach…or at a birthday party, God’s presence is most powerfully felt in the shadows.  It is in our moments of fear, we find that undeniable God-experience.  It when that cloud of nervousness and paranoia covers our home that God shows up

Eventually, we all walk through the valley of the shadow of death.  We won’t live there.  But we will walk through it.  It is there in those cold dark shadows that God provides.  We spend so much of our lives running from the shadows.  We attempt to fix and avoid pain.  But if we truly want to know God's presence in an intimate way, there may be no place where we are more sensitive to His touch than in the shadows.

After a few years passed, God told Elijah to go back to have a conversation with King Ahab.  Well, that conversation turned into a town hall meeting on the top of a mountain.  There on the mountain, surrounded by worshipers of Baal, God's man spoke up.

Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets.  Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it.  Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God.”  1 Kings 18:22-24

God’s power is seen in the test

It is in the test that God shows off.  He flexes in the test.  We, on the other hand, like to play it safe.  We seek out the sure things.  We only run races we know we can win.  But it is in the adventure that we have to exercise faith.  And that is when God shows up and shows off.

God showed up on the mountain and revealed Himself to be the only true God.

Angered, Jezebel sent her best bounty hunters on a mission to find and kill Elijah.

He was again on the run.

He was closer to God than anyone and yet he was exhausted and worn.  He stopped to rest and asked God to take His life.  Instead, God provided some food for him and then led Him to another mountain side.

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”  
1 Kings 19:11-13

God’s voice is heard in the silence

God’s voice is the loudest when life is the quietest.  It is in the silence that God speaks up.  He whispers encouragement and truth.

But silence makes us uncomfortable.  When things are quiet, we ask, "What's wrong?"  We constantly search for noise makers.

Noise makes us comfortable.  But comfort is an enemy of faith.  We have to quiet our lives if we truly want to hear God’s voice.

God whispered to Elijah.

He (Elijah) replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”…The Lord said to him…I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”   1 Kings 19:14, 18

This frightened, tired, worn, prophet discovered that he was not alone.  For years, God had preserved and protected others who worshiped Him.  There were 7000 others!  Even though Elijah felt God's presence, had witnessed God's power, and even heard God's voice, Elijah felt alone.  God declared to him that although his faith was personal, it was never intended to be private.

God’s plan is revealed in the Church

It is in the context of community that we discover this truth.

Even the strongest and most faithful servants need others in their lives.  Being isolated and feeling alone is not a good thing.  If someone as spiritually minded as Elijah needed a community of encouragement, you do too.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Story of God: Solomon

After his father, King David, died, Solomon became king.  God appeared to him and said, “Ask for anything.” Solomon asked for wisdom.  Because he did, God gave him that and more.  He gave him riches and the assurance of a long reign.

In the following years, Solomon built an army, amassed 1400 chariots and 12000 horses, and brought into the kingdom 25 tons of gold per year!  He built ships, cities, a palace, and the temple.

But in the end, he looked around at everything he had done and learned and said, “what's the point?”

In his own words…

I said to myself, “Come on, let’s try pleasure. Let’s look for the ‘good things’ in life.” But I found that this, too, was meaningless. So I said, “Laughter is silly. What good does it do to seek pleasure?” After much thought, I decided to cheer myself with wine. And while still seeking wisdom, I clutched at foolishness. In this way, I tried to experience the only happiness most people find during their brief life in this world. I also tried to find meaning by building huge homes for myself and by planting beautiful vineyards. I made gardens and parks, filling them with all kinds of fruit trees. I built reservoirs to collect the water to irrigate my many flourishing groves. I bought slaves, both men and women, and others were born into my household. I also owned large herds and flocks, more than any of the kings who had lived in Jerusalem before me. I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces. I hired wonderful singers, both men and women, and had many beautiful concubines. I had everything a man could desire! So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me. Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.  Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 (NLT)

Solomon had embarked on a journey that led to disappointment.  That is not a journey I want to take.

So before I go any further, I'm asking myself a few questions.

1) What am I chasing?
What are my goals?  What are my dreams?   Solomon was chasing significance.  He was the son of a king.  Those are huge steps to follow. Solomon was chasing wealth and power.  He didn't just want to be a politician.  He wanted to be THE King!  Solomon was chasing love, or at the very least, affection.  He had 700 wives and 300 concubines.  Sure.  Some were for political reasons, but one thousand ladies?

2) Why do I want it?
What do I think it will be like when I catch it?   What are my expectations?  Solomon assumed that he would be admired and respected.  Solomon expected to find contentment.   Solomon thought he would be unique and special.

3) What about it will last?
What kind of legacy am I really leaving?  When the experience is over..what then?  What is the shelf life of all that I'm trying to accomplish?  One of Solomon's realizations was that when we died, he had no control over how others would tend to, or neglect, all that he had built.  It is a sobering thing to realize that soon after we die, we will be forgotten. Our inheritance will be spent.  Our records will be broken.  I guess here is where we should insert the "you can't take it with you" cliche.

4) What am I missing?
Is there something I am overlooking?  Is there something I am underestimating?

As dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. 
Ecclesiastes 10:1

No matter what we achieve, if we miss out on what matters the most, the whole journey will have a "bad smell."

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.  Ecclesiastes 12:13