Monday, March 31, 2014
Hallelujah! Praise Yah! It is a word i want on my lips all the time in every situation. If money comes in, God is good! If we are sinking in debt, God is good! If we are all healthy, God is good! If we are sick to death, God is good! If i am loved by those around me, God is good! If i am hated by all who know me, God is good! If we are able to worship in freedom and in the open, God is good! If we are hunted down and thrown in prison for confessing the name of Jesus, God is good! If i am successful, God is good! If i am a failure, God is good! If the morning comes with birds and sunshine and warmth, God is good! If the morning comes and looks like evening, with the creek rising and the rain still pouring down like the wrath of the Almighty, God is Good! In all things, in all ways, in all circumstances,
Friday, March 28, 2014
Lord, everyone is a liar but you died for us liars. You died so we might be given the Spirit of Truth. So we may rest in your finished work and be given new hearts, new eyes, new ears. So we may speak truth in love with all the grace our God has shown to us! Hard truth but in love. That we may be honest people, humble people. Lord, drag cynicism and despair from among your people, clean those corners, and may faith, hope and joy come lodge here in their place. But most of all, may You come and dwell in our midst. Amen and amen.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Once, when Balisticat and were canoeing up the Susquehanna, we lost a paddle and i tried to turn us around in the middle of the rapids to go get it.
Yes, we were going UP stream.
Yes, i tried to turn around a canoe. You know, one of those boats that's pointy at both ends so it can go either direction equally well.
Yes. It went about that well. We stopped short of tipping the durn thing over and spilling our camping gear into the river but just barely.
All that's to answer the question, "What the flock is with this deformed looking lamb??"
For the answer to the questions in the Psalm however, i suggest you find a Bible.
Monday, March 24, 2014
We are often obsessed with it, even when we don't know we are. Who am i? What am i? Am i what i do? What am i here for? What do others think of me?
Over and over in the Bible, God names someone something and THEN he makes them fit the name. Abram he names Father of Nations before he ever has a child, while he's married to a barren woman whom God names Princess. He calls a disgraced, fugitive hiding out in the desert tending sheep, the Deliverer of His People. Gideon he calls Mighty Man of Valor while he's hiding from everyone in a winepress threshing grain. He calls a forgotten shepherd boy King, then that shepherd boy has to run from the king. He calls an unmarried virgin peasant girl, the mother of Messiah.
You are not your job. You are not your family. You are not what people say you are. You are not your financial status. You are not what you have been trying so hard to be or not to be.
If you have heard His voice and turned toward it, if you have seen Jesus and know him as savior, then you are Beloved. Son of God. Blameless. Holy and Set Apart. You are His. You are a Prophet, Priest and King of the One True Living God, the One Who Is, Was and Is Coming Again.
Now, go act like it. Don't be afraid, the Lord has gone ahead of you, He cannot fail.
Saturday, March 22, 2014
If you have iTunes, go here,
if you don't have iTunes go to Brook Hills Church and try their audio or video for the sermon: The Gospel and Nepal. Maybe it'll work for you, it didn't for me but then, i have iTunes.
i'm not saying you'll want to listen to it, for me it is the equivalent of surgery without anesthesia, necessary but painful and possibly life changing.
Friday, March 21, 2014
"Hey Pete, what's that guy
hollerin' about over there?"
"For He is our God
And we are the people of his pasture
And the sheep of his hand.
Today if you hear His voice,
"Do not harden your heart as at Meribah,
as in the day of Massah in the wilderness..." Ps 95
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Heck, i don't even really have much time each morning to think about this real hard and maybe that's a good thing. Hopefully the Spirit is speaking. Not i. Cuz i got nothing. Nothing you need anyway.
Always, i am hoping my sons will carry on in the faith. That they will pursue God and fall in love with him and learn about his greatness. i can teach and model that all i want but it is not up to me. God alone can decide whether or not they will respond, God has given them a choice, He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy. That sounds like a contradiction but it's not. God is sovereign and we have a choice. Deal with it. This lifts a bit of the burden off of me. i still long to see them read the Word on their own, to hear them pray on their own, to have them surpass me in their hunger for the Gospel. i still sow what little seed has been given me to sow, i just can't do anything about the dirt. It's frustrating and liberating and a place for me to learn to trust the power and mercy of God. i lament the years i spent passing on my notions of rule keeping and an angry God. i repent and i wait for God to restore the years the locusts ate. In my marriage and in my home, i trust He is big enough to even fix my mess. He keeps the entire universe spinning on time, figured out every ecosystem that ever was, designed bodies of all types, shapes and sizes, wrote all of history from beginning to end, converts our greatest sin: the Murder of God, into our salvation... yeah, i think He can handle my broken pickle jar.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Yeah, i know his hands are all puffy looking and the posing is awkward but all the same, it turned out nice. i really like what it's about, how the pose expresses the beauty and gentle love of Christ.
But you know. You cannot know the love of Christ without knowing his wrath either. His hatred of sin. His jealous protection of his own glory and honor. Verses like yesterday's are beautiful too. Ya know why?
Because who wants a husband who doesn't care if his wife is mistreated or commits adultery? Who wants a dad that doesn't care if his kids are bullied or go astray? Perfect love loves perfectly. The fury of his wrath is evidence of the strength of his love. As Steve Brown says, "you think about that."
Monday, March 17, 2014
i was reading Exodus today. The garments of Aaron. The beautiful robe of blue with its bells and embroidered pomegranates; the clean, white, embroidered linen tunic; the ephod of blue and purple and scarlet yarn. It must have been gorgeous. It is a symbol of Christ and it is a symbol of us. We in and of ourselves are cursed. We are sin. From before we are born we are in sin, born in it to sinful parents from Adam on down. For none are righteous, no not one. All creation groans...
But as Aaron showed us, one who was righteous came. And as Aaron had our names upon his shoulders, so Christ bore us. There are only one set of footprints in the sand. And as Aaron had our names upon his breastplate of judgment covering his heart, so Jesus had in his heart, the wellspring of his life, his mission, his purpose, his desire, was our judgment. He knew we were cursed. Cursed to die for our sins. This he can not abide for he loves us! We are the desire of his heart! So like Aaron bore the symbol which read, "A holy object for YHWH" upon his forehead, Christ bore the guilt of all our unrighteous acts upon his own head. Christ was judged for us and now we are clothed in his righteousness! We have been given new garments to attend the wedding supper of the Lamb! We who have been given the gift of faith to believe are the bride of Christ! We are the queen? What restored queen would then put back on the soiled dress of the adulteress? What redeemed queen would put back on the rough tunic of the slave girl? What beloved princess would put back on the orphan's rags? Not when Christ has laid out your outfit for you and bought at such a price! This is his gift to you!
What robe will you wear today?
Friday, March 14, 2014
No. "I will awake the dawn," he says! David is opening up the garage at six thirty A.M. on a tuesday, plugging in Doc Brown's amp, cranking all the knobs to 11 and bringing the pick of destiny down on the lyre of ecstasy! This is Joe Bonamassa stuff! This is Roderigo y Gabriella stuff! This is Eddie freakin' no teeth Van Halen stuff! This isn't breathless whisper, softly sung in G so all the congregation can keep up stuff, this is slammin the Hammond B3, gospel clappin southern fried black choir in full throat keep up if you can whitey and for the love of all that's holy clap on 2 and 4 or don't clap at all stuff! David has seen that God has not favored their armies anymore. God no longer goes out before them. David isn't trying to wake up God. He's trying to wake up the people! Awake! Arise! Look around! See what we have become! See how far we've fallen! Now turn around! See God! See YHWH! The Just, the Loving, the Faithful, the Strong and mighty and powerful waiting to receive us back again! YHWH the I-loved-you-so-much-I-sent-my-everlovin'-only-son-to-die-in-your-freakin-place-and-then-raised-him-from-the-pit-of-death-and-hell-for-you! No half hearted verse of pick your favorite blow dried feather cut shiny, happy worship chorus is gonna do! He gave his best! What you got?
Are you ready to rock?
i didn't hear you. i said, are you ready to ROCK?
weak. Pitifoo, just pitifoo.
I SAID, ARE YOU FEATHERPLUCKERS READY TO GET NUTS??
MMMMmmmmm, that's some good daily bread!
Thursday, March 13, 2014
The fields are white and ready, the workers are few, the landowner has gone away but is coming again. Will he find faith when he returns?
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
But our faith isn't blind. Yes, we hope for what we do not see but not because we made it up. God desires relationship. He knows us through and through and is constantly exposing His heart to us. So what does this Psalm and the conquering of Canaan say about Him? What does He want us to know?
First, that he hates sin. No real surprise there. Second, that sin, all sin, demands blood. The life is in the blood. Sin is only cleansed by death, by blood. From Genesis 3 on down through the Passover and the Temple God is very consistent. Sin can only be cleansed when blood is spilled. "Indeed, nearly everything is purified with blood according to the law, and apart from the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." (Heb 9) God is holy. God is the only one without sin. God is the only one with the right to judge. So we see the basis for God to come in and wipe out the Canaanites, it's not based on ethnicity or race, it is based solely on whether or not they have sinned...
But because of that we also see the basis for God to come in and wipe out everyone. The Israelites had sinned too. Time and time again as is documented in the Exodus. They had probably worshiped idols in Egypt. What makes them so great that they get to be on the giving end of this judgment?
Nuthin. Except! God chose them. God had poured out his Spirit on them. He had made a covenant with them. Just as God did not destroy Adam and Eve in the Garden but killed or "cut off" animals and clothed them in their bloody skins and just like He did not kill Noah but had him take animals to "cut off" in place of him and his family, and just like He instituted the cutting off of the bloody foreskin as sign of the covenant with Abraham, and just like the Passover Lamb had its throat slit for the passing over of the Israelites in Egypt, the blood starts spilling with God's chosen first! We are under the same curse as the Canaanites. We need blood to cleanse us too! God in his mercy and loyal love has accepted another's blood in our place! Anyone who humbles themselves before God and allies themselves with Him is received by the grace of the blood of His accepted sacrifice. Through Adam and Eve and Noah and Abraham and the Israelites would come the acceptable sacrifice, the spotless lamb whose blood would be shed for the sins of the world! This is the reason for the choosing. This is why God puts up with the sins of some and condemns the sins of others. The Canaanites thought they could appease the gods with the blood of their own children, but their children could only die for their own sins, not the sins of their parents which were magnified by the act of killing the most innocent among them. God was not pleased. These were horrendously violent and immoral people. You would not want your children going to school with them. You would not want them as neighbors. They are the kind of people and nation we send armed "peacekeepers" to so they will stop slaughtering each other. It takes but one generation of living among them for the Israelites to become indistinguishable from Sodom and Gomorrah, even Moses' own grandson! (Judges 18) Like Adam should have crushed the head of the Serpent in the Garden to protect Eve, so God, God himself for it is He who over and over again says has delivered the Canaanites into the Israel's hands, He who fights for them, God is crushing the head of Satan and cleansing the Garden where He has chosen to dwell among men. God is the only rightful king, the Canaanites are immoral squatters abusing his people and his land. But even those among them, Rahab the prostitute and the Gibeonites who humbled themselves before YHWH were brought into the mercy of the chosen! God wants to forgive! God wants to redeem! God is good and will be proved good in all He does. It is only those who stand against Him in pride who will be destroyed. Those who will not accept the blood of the new covenant spilled for the forgiveness of sins, will drink the cup of wrath instead. Their water of blessing which God gave them in life will be turned to blood.
But for us, the water has been turned to wine. Do this in remembrance of Him until he comes again at last to cleanse the Garden once and for all.
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
test 1 |test|noun1 a procedure intended to establish the quality, performance, or reliability of something, esp. before it is taken into widespread use :no sparking was visible during the tests.• a short written or spoken examination of a person's proficiency or knowledge : a spelling test.• an event or situation that reveals the strength or quality of someone or something by putting them under strain : this is the first serious test of the peace agreement.• an examination of part of the body or a body fluid for medical purposes, esp. by means of a chemical or mechanical procedure rather than simple inspection : a test for HIV | eye tests.• Chemistry a procedure employed to identify a substance or to reveal the presence or absence of a constituent within a substance.• the result of a medical examination or analytical procedure : a positive test for protein.• a means of establishing whether an action, item, or situation is an instance of a specified quality, esp. one held to be undesirable : a statutory test of obscenity.2 Metallurgy a movable hearth in a reverberating furnace, used for separating gold or silver from lead.
Just thought it might help to think about this while you wait for the Word to come about. That and to contemplate the fact that the phrase, "the time his word came about," means God has a plan, an end in mind. This is not random, it is not condemnation, it is not pointless or heartless, it is not just "going to pass," it is pointed as a scalpel and as deliberate as machining process. God is making something, like a potter with the clay or a chef with the heat of his stove, he has an end in mind and he cannot fail.
Friday, March 07, 2014
No. It's not a post-it.
It's a mental picture, it's a symbol, it's something like what i want you to see when i say, "Grace."
Where do you think you are in the picture? If this is a picture of faith and the christian life, who are you?
i'll give you a hint, Christ has said we would share his throne with him. That means, it's HIS throne. We're just sitting there with him. Christ has said, HIS yoke is easy and HIS burden is light. That means it's HIS. We're just there with him. God is going to do what He is going to do. In fact, He is always working, always accomplishing His story. We have been invited into it! We are joining him on HIS mission. But we always want to co-opt the story. Make it about us. Which also, inevitably, makes it up to us. Paul warned us not to be unequally yoked and we usually apply that to marriage but he never says that. It doesn't NOT say that, that's just not all it says. It means the same thing God meant when he set his people apart and told them not to mingle with the nations around them, don't adopt their customs, don't pick up their ways, don't pick up their gods. Marriage is just one of the ways we open up Pandora's box. Satan wants you at war, worn down and worn out. His is the world system.
What exactly are you saying, Scruff? What's it got to do with this picture? Glad you asked! Okay, let's say you are Rascal there, you got your sandals on your feet, your smooth, fresh crew cut, your bright, clean shirt and you are ready for the world! If you do things the world's way, you would pick up a shovel and start digging. You would soon see what the curse in Genesis three was about and why man invent excavators and why everyone who digs in Pennslobovia curses the ground. And oh, by the way, you are six years old. You ain't too strong, ya dig?
Okay, well, let's say, Rascal becomes a Christian, Jesus makes him a son of God. God invites him to come and sit on his lap. Come, see what i see, m'boy. Come, join me in my work, my burden is light. Come, be with me. Hang on and enjoy the ride, the Father says. Well, Rascal is all like, Heck yeah! And he jumps up and everything's cool for a while but Rascal has read all these "DO" verses in the Bible and he's heard all those sermons about answering your calling and he's read Footprints and he's heard his whole life, "God helps those that help themselves." So Rascal realizes, crap! I've got to do something or God's gonna kick me off his lap! So he grabs the sticks and starts trying to operate the machine. Just a reminder, he's six. How well do you think that's gonna go? What happened?
Rascal forgot what the point was. The point is not the work. The point is not to earn your place on the lap or deserve to keep it. The point is not to dig for gold or clean water sources. The point was to BE WITH DAD. The reward, the better portion, the inheritance is the Father himself! To share in his joy. To share in His suffering. What happens to Him happens to you but you do it together! If Rascal would rather play video games, he loses the Father. He loses the joy of seeing the work complete. He loses the Father's joy in him. He loses relationship. If Rascal thinks it's about what he does, about performance, about saving the world, he forgets whose lap he's on. He loses the Father. He turns the work into work. Which as we know, eventually becomes drudgery, slavery and finally death. Or he fears because he cannot accomplish it, doesn't have the strength, the competency. He fails God! Well, i got two reassuring bits of news for ya:
1. You DON'T have the strength or competency.
and 2. God already knows that.
Moses at the Burning Bush keeps giving God reasons why Moses cannot go to Pharaoh and do what God said God was going to do. Moses didn't have to do much of anything! God promised to speak for him, to perform the signs, told him the outcome, said He'd be with him all the way... all he had to do was take a walk, all he had to do was...the same thing you have to do in your struggling marriage, your sickness, your loved one's sickness, your grieving, your impossible task, your wayward child, your job, your church, your relationships, your calling, your LIFE...
take the hand Jesus is offering you, jump up on God's throne with him and enjoy the ride.
Thursday, March 06, 2014
i hate to be a killjoy but i'd rather be one now, i'd rather you hate me than get to the judgment seat of Christ and have Him say, "Depart from me, i never knew you."
God is good. He causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike. He is slow to anger and withholds his wrath in mercy. "Or do you despise the wealth of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart, you are storing up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and of the revelation of the righteous judgment of God..." (Rom 2)
We love to quote God's promises, all things work for good..., but i know the plans i have for you, plans of prosperity and not for harm, to give you a future and a hope. That God is going to raise us from the dead. Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace and goodwill...
But we hate to remember the rest of those verses...
"And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose, because those whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he should be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined, these he also called, and those whom he called, these he also justified, and those whom he justified, these he also glorified." (Rom 8)
"For I know the plans that I am planning concerning you,’ declares Yahweh, ‘plans for prosperity and not for harm, to give to you a future and a hope. Then when you call me, and you come and pray to me, then I will listen to you. When you search for me, then you will find me, if you seek me with all your heart. And I will let myself be found by you,’" (Jer 29)
"“The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they are not even able to die any longer, because they are like the angels and are sons of God, because they are sons of the resurrection." (Luke 20)
"“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace
among people with whom he is pleased!”
Even our quote from Psalms says, "His loyal love prevails over those that fear him." God's ultimate promises are for his people. Yes Christ died for all but only those who trust in his death, those who have died with him, receive his inheritance. Look, i'm not trying to make you doubt your salvation. i'm not looking to give you a to-do list. You cannot please God with your works. The works of God are to believe in the one whom He sent. When you do this, you are given the Holy Spirit as a down payment on things to come. It is the Holy Spirit who gave you the ability to believe in the first place, again, God goes before you! It is He who causes fruit to grow in your life, off your little dead and shriveled branch. John says those who believe are evident by their love. James says they are evident by their works. Do you see this fruit? Do you see love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control and humility in your life? Are you broken about what breaks the heart of God? Or are you numb? When you read the word, if you read it, does it speak to you? Do you want to see more of Him? Are things less and less important to you and God himself, his person, knowing him, more and more crucial and the aching of your heart? Do you desire the things He desires? Do you desire to be among others who desire Him? Yes? Awesome! Then live as Paul says, "Always Confident." Do not doubt! Rest in Him.
No? Then, as the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy sagely warns us, "Don't Panic." The most oft repeated command in the Bible is "Do not fear." God is for you! Look what he has done for you! Look! This is your work. Look into these things! See Jesus! See and then believe! Believe and the Spirit will come. Let Him worry about the to-do list.
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
Things i can be according to
2 Corinthians 5
Always carrying around the Death of Jesus in my body
in order that the life of Jesus be revealed in my body
Things i cannot be according to
2 Corinthians 5
i mention all of this because Psalm 102 is all about these feelings, these momentary light afflictions which can take our eyes off the promises and hook them to the lies. Just as Satan uses our sins and confessions against us, so God can use the prayers of saints gone before to lift us. Read the psalms! They are all about focusing our eyes on what is unseen and letting what is seen be temporary. Have you thought about what words like "eternal" and "beyond all measure" and "beyond all proportion" mean? Take just one, "beyond all proportion." That means that the consolation, the reward, the inheritance we receive for living our lives for Christ instead of ourselves is so far out of whack with what we had to give up, lose, had stolen or endured here on earth as to make us go, "Whoa! Hold up, it's too much! You must have me confused with someone like Mother Theresa or one of the martyrs, Dad!"
"And he said to them, "Truly I say to you there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children on account of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time or in the age to come, eternal life." Luke 18
That's the God we serve! Everything He has is yours! And He wants to give it to you! Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart like in your times of despair. Come to him in humility and the peace and joy He gives are just the down payment on things to come.
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
A psalm of David. i wonder if it came before or after Bathsheba? It is certainly easier to set before our eyes wicked things these days. Temptation is everywhere. But here it is pretty important i think, to remember James, "No one who is being tempted should say, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each one is tempted when he is dragged away and enticed by his own desires. Then desire, after it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is brought to completion, gives birth to death."
It's not God who brings temptation. The tree in the garden wasn't temptation, it was testing. It was a place to go and see if you truly loved God and trusted Him. It was so that we may know what is in our hearts. God already knows. God knew what Eve would do before He slid Adam's rib out, before He even scooped up some dust to mold Adam. The tree was not temptation. Eve's heart's desire to be her own god, to have control, her fear of insecurity is what tempted her. Heck, even Satan just gave the last nudge.
Self control. It is the product of the fruit of the Spirit. Which explains why it is in such short supply these days. Pray for the Spirit. Do business with the Spirit. Listen to Him. Repent of the sins which deafen us, which spring from our desires, to have control, to be our own gods. Take courage, fear not, hasn't God already said He is with you and will go before you?