Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Saturday, March 19, 2011
I didn’t really set out to start a series here, but after last week’s talk about what God hates, I wanted to look at another part of His nature: God is love.
His Love is fierce, His Love is strong, it is furious
His Love is sweet, His love is wild, and it’s waking our hearts to life
We’ve mentioned that God is a God of second chances. (And someone will invariably start adding “and third, and fourth…”) He sees the best in us. He wants us to succeed, and as long as we’re willing to pick ourselves back up, He’s willing to give us more opportunities to do so.
I’ve heard God described by some who are disillusioned with the church as ‘sky bully.’ Even we as Christians have this idea that God’s going to smite us if we step out of line. But He’s not like that at all. His mercy endures forever. It outlasts all of our pity parties or rebellious streaks. There’s nothing that will separate us from His love.
He owns the cattle of a thousand hills and paves His streets with gold. Who does He have to be envious of?
Even after creating everything that exists, He simply responds with ‘it is good.’ We even see in Genesis 2:18 that God isn’t ashamed to say “I can do better” when there’s more to be done.
We always see God giving words of encouragement. Even when He’s delivering bad news, there’s some sort of hope attached.
God doesn’t look out for Himself. Simply put, He’s perfection – he doesn’t need looking out for. Instead, He watches out for us. Encouraging, guiding, sometimes disciplining, but always for good cause.
See above, where we talked about ‘patient’ and ‘kind.’ Even where we see God’s wrath enacting, it was a reaction to long standing circumstances, and after numerous warnings.
When we take our shortcomings to God, He casts them into the sea of forgetfulness and remembers them no more. There’s another song, this one by The Waiting, called “How Do You Do That?” The bridge goes:
You know the hairs on my head, and You named every star
But I’m bowing my knee at how forgetful You are
It’s not that God forgets all this stuff like we forget where we put our keys. No, God chooses to forget. When we give it to Him, it’s like it doesn’t even exist anymore.
God’s holiness cannot abide evil, and He Himself is the truth.
Our God is forever faithful.
Monday, March 7, 2011
This idea unsettles me. Yes, God is a Holy God, He cannot abide sin. But God doesn’t hate any person. Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:14 “your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.” Taking it a step further, John tells us “whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (I John 4:8)
The Bible tells us in Proverbs 6:16-19 about seven (and only) seven things that God hates. Here are the "six things God hates, and one more that he loathes with a passion” (MSG)
- haughty eyes/a proud look
Simply put, thinking that you’re better than someone else. It’s only by God’s grace that any of us isn’t as bad, or worse, than the worst of the worst. A proud look implies you think you don’t need a savior. Romans 3:23 tells us “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The first step on the road to salvation is admitting you need a savior.
- a lying tongue,
One of the top ten. For many of us, this is the first sin we commit. No, I didn’t eat any cookies. Tommy broke the lamp, not me. And it’s socially acceptable. The movie Liar, Liar is all about a man who lies constantly, but has to tell nothing but the truth for 24 hours. But it shows us all these situations where we “have” to lie, and it’s completely accepted. But lies build distrust. If you lied to me once, how do I know you won’t do it again? Or that you haven’t already?
- hands that shed innocent blood,
Also in the top ten. But a slight variation. God says ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ but sometimes He would allow the army of Israel to wipe people out. David killing Goliath was not shedding innocent blood. David killing Uriah (albeit indirectly) certainly was. Remember, anything we do to the ‘least of these,’ we do to God.
- a heart that devises wicked schemes,
This is anything that hurts someone else for personal gain, even if that personal gain is nothing more than smug satisfaction. We see it often in the Bible: Haman and Mordecai, Joseph and his brothers, Ahab, Jezebel, and Naboth. It’s a way of getting our way when the cards seem stacked against us. Rather than trusting in God’s plans, we try to do things our way.
- feet that are quick to rush into evil,
Ever hear some juicy piece of gossip and can’t wait to tell someone? Hear about a sultry scene in a movie and go out and watch it to see for yourself? Or even going out to do something just because someone told you not to? Granted, we’ve all sinned, so at some point we’re going to fall into something we shouldn’t. But this is more talking about going and looking for it, in outright defiance to God’s word.
- a false witness who pours out lies
Here we are, back at lying. Now, if two things in the list of what God hates involve the same activity, we might want to avoid it. This one, however, is more about giving a false report about someone else. Think of how many courtroom dramas have someone lying under oath and getting caught. Or giving a false representation of who God is. Think of the men who followed Paul around, saying that, to follow Jesus and receive the Holy Spirit, first you had to be found righteous under the law. False witness destroys the character and reputation of someone.
- and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.
“Beloved, let us love one another.” There are countless scriptures about unity, how the best things happen when we work together. Then someone comes along and tries to ruin the whole party. Maybe they’re upset they didn’t get their way. Or maybe they’re stirring up trouble just for trouble’s sake. There are some people in the world who like to argue, and will pick a fight just because they want a fight. But it sets us back. Our fight isn’t with each other, but when we turn our eyes against each other, that allows the enemy of our souls to slip about unnoticed.
Friday, August 13, 2010
This story was told to King David by Nathan the prophet in 2 Samuel 12:1b-4. When the king heard the story, he became furious and stated that the rich man deserved to die and even pay four times the worth of the lamb’s value. Nathan responded “You are that rich man!” (v7). If you’re confused, here’s the backstory: One day during the season of spring, it was known that the kings would wage war with each other for land, the king stayed behind. One afternoon, David was on the roof of his palace and he saw a woman. Her name was Bathsheba, and she was bathing in her courtyard. David saw her, and desired her (as she was a beautiful woman). He wanted her, and even though she was married he slept with her.
She had some great news for him sometime later: “I’m pregnant”. David freaked and had Uriah come home and sleep with his wife. Uriah was in the army and was concerned about his brothers, so he didn’t even go home to his wife. David then had another plan: send him back out to the battlefield, and set him up to be killed…this plan succeeded. David, once the greatest man of his time, was now an adulterer and a murderer. The Lord then sent Nathan to David to prophesy to him about the consequences of his deeds. Because of what David had done, not only will someone from his own family cause trouble (Absalom) and even take his wives to the bed chamber, but his newborn son (with Bathsheba) was going to die. David begged for God to let his son live, but God carried out what He said He would do.
Looking at America today, we can see the prevalence of the mantra “The end justifies the means”. Tax evasion to have more money, abortion to continue having sexual freedom, rejecting sinners so we can feel better about our own sins (I know that’s harsh, but it happens). Everywhere you look, there is someone who says “the result will be worth it” and then they leave a bloodied path of bodies as they go. There’s a piece of this mantra that should be added: “The end justifies the means, but the means justify the consequences.” Tax evasion leads to jail, abortion leads to physical complications and emotional torture, and rejecting sinners pushes us away from the Father. We, as the bride of Christ and the representatives of Jesus, need to look into the consequences of our actions to promote love and peace.
Bad choices tend to snowball into other bad choices; David first chose not to war for his kingdom and stayed home, he watched a naked woman bathe herself, he lusted for her and took her for himself (he had several wives at this point, mind you; it wasn’t like he wasn’t getting any action), tried to cover it up with a lie, and then finally chose to have her husband killed. A lot of bad things came from staying home…do any of you have the same problem? Sometimes choosing not to do anything is the cause of sin to creep in and tempt, because there is nothing to stop it. Then the snowball hits the rocks…regret, emotional trauma, feelings of worthlessness, and that’s only if no one finds out about your choices. Sometimes when others find out it can get even worse and the emotional disdain is terrible and it takes time to recover.
But recovery is there. The Lord says in 2 Corinthians that “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (v9) We make bad choices, they snowball, and we hurt people. Many times we aren’t even aware that we hurt someone. But God…that’s easily one of the greatest two words in the Bible…but God is powerful in our weakness. He is powerful when we fall. He is powerful when Satan comes upon us and tears us down for our mistakes. The key here is to know that God’s grace is sufficient for you…no matter what. David lusted after a woman, like some people lust through pornography or even just looking at people on the street, and God’s grace was sufficient to lead him from that temptation. David had sex with this married woman, like so many men in our modern day, and even young unwed couples who have sex and essentially commit adultery against the Bridegroom…but God’s grace is was sufficient to forgive and heal him. David murdered Uriah in the worst way: Uriah never knew the corruption behind his death…everyone thought Uriah was only a victim of circumstance. How many times have you done something manipulative to get your way and hurt someone? I know I have, and I’m only 22 years old; I’m sure I’ll do it again. But God’s grace is sufficient, even if you killed someone!
God also can redeem us and help turn the tables when the consequences come from the enemy. I’m a big fan of this show The Big Bang Theory, a sitcom about scientists who are extremely nerdy, awkward, and love all things geek (reminds me of a few people, myself included). One episode has the main one, Leonard, having a visit from his mother. He brings her along to his work, and one of his friends (Howard) begins to ask questions that tear down Leonard. Leonard’s mother excuses herself and Leonard takes this time to try to get them to stop. Howard says “You know the rules: you brought your mother to work and now you must suffer.” But Leonard turns the tables: his mother is a neuro-physicist (glorified psychologist), and so Leonard reveals information about Howard and his buddy joining in the teasing (Raj) that causes his mother to psychoanalyze them and bring out some unsavory and quite embarrassing aspects of their personality. They’re speechless, and Leonard is just smiling away. We have the ability to turn the tables on Satan when he comes to tear us down; God is our resource.
But wait a sec, J! The scripture you’re using is about God’s consequences. What about that? Well, there’s no easy way to this but DEAL!!! God gives us consequences in order to prune us and make us better. In your own devotional time, read into Job and his story. Also, be on the lookout for my sequel to this blog called “God’s Not Fair” concerning living with God’s choices for our lives.
May the peace of God be upon you, and may His love shine down and touch your very soul. Shalom and go forth, Beloved. Be the Bride of Christ.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
you overpowered me and prevailed.
I am ridiculed all day long;
everyone mocks me.
proclaiming violence and destruction.
So the word of the LORD has brought me
insult and reproach all day long.
or speak any more in his name,"
his word is in my heart like a fire,
a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
indeed, I cannot.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Friday, June 4, 2010
There are two main problems with not discipling. First of all, without discipleship, it’s even harder to make the transition into living for Christ. We have all these ‘rules,’ we have our own sort of vocabulary, and throwing someone in without warning can be too much of a shock, and we can scare them away. Have you ever been hired for a job, and they give you a copy of the employee handbook and say, “read this when you can, now get to work”? No, that’s ridiculous. Or think of a football player who has the team playbook, but has never practiced, and doesn’t have any pads. He’d step onto the field and get killed. But that’s how we treat people just coming to know Christ. Pastor Phil calls it ‘aborting babies at the altar.’ By not giving them the care, the direction they need, we can drive them away from the Church.
And then, if somehow one of the ‘babies’ from the altar manages to stay within the body, without proper direction, how can they grow? If all someone learns about living for Christ comes from an hour and a half every Sunday morning, how much are they really getting? We’ve also heard Pastor Phil talk about “parting the mustache to put a bottle in the mouth.” Paul writes in Hebrews 6:1 “Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity.” It takes a lot of time and effort to disciple someone. Jesus spent three years with the twelve, and they didn’t get it until after the fact. I have heard of people who’ve accepted Christ and then spent hours upon hours studying the word, all on their own, but that’s the exception, not the rule. Plus, as we’ve already talked about, we can’t do this alone.
I mentioned the “iron sharpens iron” proverb earlier, and that does work both ways. By discipling someone, you learn more about God that you would on your own. We don’t have to learn everything through direct experience. I’ve walked with my friends through things I wouldn’t have had to on my own. And you can be both a disciple and a mentor at the same time. And remember, don’t be offended if someone you disciple does things their own way. The whole point of discipleship is getting the ideas into someone so that they internalize it, and they can do it their way. Teachers teach with various methods to be sure their students “get it.” And Biblically, when Saul took David in, Saul tried to give David his armor, but David took up the five smooth stones.
Discipleship. It's how we grow. It's not so much about teaching or learning as it is about the relationship. You have to have a closeness before anyone can speak into your life, or before you'll allow them to speak into yours. And that's my vision for Crossroads, to build up those relationships, so that we, as a group, can learn from each other, on our way to maturity in Christ.