Thursday, November 29, 2018

A City Set On A Hill

Last night I woke up and texted myself 'Light on a Hill' and went back to sleep. (texting myself is my go-to 'pen and paper' on the nightstand method). This morning I started thinking of the qualities of a 'light on a hillside' and realized I was a bit off base once I looked up the passage.

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." - Matthew 5:14-16 ESV

Wow. Our faith is a city on a hillside. 'The Faith' that is being manifested through a believer is light in this world. The definite article (the) before faith seems to say that this light is the only light there. It stands alone in a dark region. Amazing.

This city can't be hidden. Scouts that pass through the region see a city like that and mark it on their mental maps. Different people have different motives for canvassing the land but no matter what the reason is... a city like that can't be hidden.

'...In the same way, let your light shine before others...'

Perhaps we want to be visible to some and invisible to others but it doesn't work that way.

I inwardly rejoice at negative reactions from people who know where I stand and react to me because of it.

A wise friend and I were talking about a believer we know who has gone into eternity (Ray Kurowski) and how imperfect men have made such an eternal impact on our world. Flawed men. Men who not many people on Earth knew but they may not have left a large imprint out on the internet but they were and are 'the light of the world'.

Unknown on Earth but well known in Heaven.

You may not know or see the impact you have but scouts mark you on their map as a landmark because the light in and around you is visible to those who pass by.


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

My Dream About Remembering

Last night I had funny dreams about a town where everyone forgot things. They all knew that in their special town that was prone to happen and they adapted as best they could in their collective partial remembrance. I woke up thinking, 'This would make a good series of books if it hasn't already been done.'

Then I opened my, 'Ariel's Harmony of the Gospels' to pick up where I left off yesterday and it turns out I'm in a section called, 'The Rejection of the First Sign of Yonah' page 181. In the next few sections the author has collected different portions in the Gospels where Christ was rejected.

After Lazarus came alive again the Pharisees had a meeting. They were sure that Jesus' actions were going to bring the fury of Rome down on Israel. The logic was that Jesus would displace their influence and they would no longer be able to protect the people. They decided Jesus needed to die so that wouldn't happen. This is all recorded in John 11:45-54. After that Jesus withdrew from preaching openly and starting operating in the wilderness of Ephraim.

That brought me back to my dream. Don't we all live sometimes in the 'town where everyone forgets'? We cope as best we can but we know in our heart that things are not right. There should be more clarity.

Jesus withdrew long ago because the powers in charge refused to see Him as being the embodiment of resurrection life. Instead they saw Him as a threat to their fragile control over their situation. He withdrew like our memory can withdraw leaving us struggling to recall the name associated with a familiar face.

It is very human to want control but exercising control has a price. We can miss the moment. We can forsake the mercy God wants to give us. Perhaps our tight grasp doesn't resemble the murder plot described in John 11 but I think it mirrors it far more than we realize. Those simple uneducated fishermen were thinking much more clearly in that situation.


Sunday, November 25, 2018

Overhearing God's Conversation

Young Joshua was learning to listen with his heart and not just his head.

"When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the LORD would speak with Moses. And when all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise up and worship, each at his tent door. Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent." Exodus 33:9-11 ESV

What wonders did he hear outside of God's tent. Others will listen outside of their own tents. Joshua listened to God and Moses talk. We listen to Jesus speak from the Bible in front of God's throne.

I want to overhear Him... not put words into His mouth.


Friday, November 23, 2018

Today Is The Day Of Salvation

"Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God." Matthew 19:24 ESV

This is repeated in three of the Gospels.

The eye of the needle was a place where merchants came in and out to trade but the animals needed to stay outside. It was a small entrance.

Yesterday won't fit into today's salvation. A rich person needs to leave that richness at the door. Jesus inhabits today and tomorrow. He is the alpha and omega of right now.

The throne of grace is a couple of steps past what is natural. While His disciples were sleeping Jesus took those extra steps into the garden of Gethsemane. He left His camels outside and prayed. He could have called down a company of angels while He was on that cross but He didn't. We also have that privilege if our spirit is alive and the word has divided soul from spirit. We can be unselfconsciously poor and meet with God on His good terms at His gracious throne.


Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving And The Burning Bush

Today is 'Thanksgiving' in the United States and embedded in the day are many concepts. Thankfulness is just one of them. I personally think the attitude of thankfulness is vital. When someone is not thankful for whatever reason there is something truly lacking emotionally. It is a symptom of living in deception. God consciousness involves thankfulness.

I'm not saying this to condemn anyone. Truly. This day called 'Thanksgiving' may not fill you with joy for a dozen reasons and I understand.

My personal theme for some months has been hospitality and it has become a real source of thankfulness for me. I want to have a thankful heart. I think it is only right and good for God to look at me and see a thankful person but isn't 'natural' for some people. I would say most people. I need to stir it up in my heart and then keep doing it so it becomes a rhythm and pattern.

Today I thought of the burning bush. That bush was burning for Moses. Dry brush often caught fire in the desert but that brush would burn itself out quickly. That one bush kept burning and it caught his attention. He didn't walk straight towards it. The Hebrew suggests he made his way towards it in a roundabout way but when he got there God spoke and immediately called him by name, set up a boundary of movement and declared that the ground Moses was standing on was holy.

"When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, 'Moses, Moses!' And he said, 'Here I am.' Then he said, 'Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.' And he said, 'I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. Then the LORD said, 'I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.' " - Exodus 3:4-10 ESV

This was a visitation. It was a 'day of visitation' and I see hospitality written all over it. I'm sure Moses never forgot that day and thought about it again and again. Moses wrote Exodus. I read it now and this encounter has become mine. It is like a treasure map written by someone long ago but now I have it in my hands. I look for familiar landmarks and match them to my surroundings.

Thankfulness is the treasure.

I sit here stirring myself up and counting my many blessings moving from physical things to relationships. I think of events and possibilities and moments in time. I sift through the sand to find shells knowing that if I could look at that sand through a microscope the sand itself would appear wonderous in its varied shapes and colors.

God visits men. I am so thankful for that.

I hope you have a wonderful day today and hope above all things that your heart is filled with thankfulness or at least that you start on a path for that to happen.

Jesus is our burning bush. You can't extinguish His love. Do you see Him? Make your way over to that light. He is burning for you.


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

White Fields?

Yesterday two of my posts got swallowed whole by the internet. Should I take it as a sign and stop posting? No.

"If I say, 'I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,' there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot." - Jeremiah 20:9 ESV

"Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. The sluggard says, 'There is a lion in the road! There is a lion in the streets!' As a door turns on its hinges, so does a sluggard on his bed." - Proverbs 26:12-14 ESV

If you or I continually do something and there is little or no response should we consider changed tactics or locations? Maybe.

"Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, then comes the harvest'? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.' " - John 4:35 ESV

"And he said to them, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.' " - Luke 10:2 ESV

Yes. There is a harvest out there. Some movement may be necessary and that is good. I see this time as a harvest time. In the ancient times, those were hectic days. Once the crop turned 'white' it needed to be brought in or it might rot out there in the field. If one place 'gave up its yield' the next field needed to be done.

When readership numbers are down and stay that way I start to think about this. Should I move on? Is there a white field nearby that only has a few workers? Am I being stubborn? Perhaps I don't like the sound of some loud fellows voice over in that next field so I don't go there but in this narrow window of time can I afford to be 'picky' in that way?

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." - 2 Corinthians 5:10 KJV

Useful or useless... Prayer is vital.

Here is another good one.

" 'All things are lawful for me,' but not all things are helpful. 'All things are lawful for me,' but I will not be dominated by anything." - 1 Corinthians 6:12 ESV

Prayer. We need prayer and eyes that are looking for something in particular to discern the will of God.

"Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, 'My master is delayed,' and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." - Matthew 24:45-51 ESV

We are not servants only. We are sons and daughters who serve. We will never be cast out but our works might go up in flames in the light of day if they are of the flammable kind. Still. This is a good principle.

"And He said to them, 'Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?' " - Luke 2:49 NKJV

Yes. This is the mind of Christ. We are about our Father's business.

Pray with me if you would. I'm not writing just to hear my own voice. Perhaps this is a time to shift gears. If so, I want to be available to do that.


Monday, November 19, 2018

A Fiery Dart

Yesterday I was listening to Ravi Zacharias and he was speaking about the boldness of Christ to claim that He would rise from the grave and that His body would be alive again. What a claim that was! A fraud would say, 'I will guide you spiritually after my death.' because it is an easy claim.

Then a thought came in like a dagger, 'Why do you even listen to that book? It is a claim from an imaginary person. If He ever lived at all He is dead and buried just like everyone else.'

That my friend is a fiery dart. A thought lit on fire.

I'd like to say I'm immune to such things but who is immune to fire? Thank God I have a shield called 'faith'. This faith is not general. It is very specific. God created the world and everything in it. He gave men words. In due season those words become a book. Technology progressed. That book was mass produced. Jesus' life was recorded in that book so that His claim of a bodily resurrection would be known and heard by me and millions of others.

Paul said this...

"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God." - 1 Corinthians 15:3-9 ESV

Statements like, 'Do you really believe that stuff.' and 'They don't really love you.' or 'Who are you to try and do that. You are weak and unimportant in the grand scheme of things.' are just lies. Easy lies. Lies meant to prey on vulnerable people like you and me. Our limitations seem obvious but are they? What can a person with a shield do? What can your little life mean if God is leading and guiding you?

Once again I choose to be the fool who believes the Bible. I choose to say, 'What I do today is important because I carry God in my heart and He carries me through this life.'

The darts will come. Like a gust of wind, they can interrupt your picnic and send a few paper plates flying. It happens but they can't touch the Rock and those who hide in Christ hide in a strong tower that won't be moved or burned down by doubts like that. It isn't that they are not dangerous. They are and people have become shipwrecked because they had no shield or left it somewhere out of reach.

'He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.' - Jim Elliot (A wise young man who died on the mission field but people still quote him today)

So... Don't buy the cheap lie. Buy the truth and sell it not.


Friday, November 16, 2018

Properties Of Light

I'm beginning to see light in a different way.

There is math out there that describes light as being three dimensional instead of flat. It has tornado like properties. When God said, 'Let there be Light.' we may picture a burst of color appearing in darkness but I'm thinking now that it was more like God was adding a third dimension to our universe. A square becomes a cube. A blueprint becomes a three dimensional object with depth that can be seen. Then God added more complexity to that new medium.

The pillar of cloud by day and fire by night comes to mind. The three dimensional water spout that mingles the water from Earth and sky because high pressure meets low pressure and a spiral is formed.

Jesus says He Is the, 'Light of the world.' and that understanding parallels the idea that He is the 'finger of God' spoken of in the Hebrew scriptures. He is the highest person who reached the lowest place a person can go and returned to tell the tale.

He bring illumination into darkness. He Is the only way that void can be bridged. Eyes need light or they don't 'see'. Souls need Jesus or they remain dead two dimensional blueprints that never made it into spiritual production.

In this model light does not 'travel'. It is more like a crack that forms in the ice. Pressure is exerted because of forces at play and color is the result. God is everywhere present all the time. Jesus illuminates a depth that was unseen. To say, 'You must know Him' is very much like saying, 'Open your eyes' or 'Awake thou that sleepeth'. He is life out of death.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Heading Into Potential Danger

I was reading this passage and Jesus' reasoning really caught me. This is a great picture of why we enter 'risky' situations...

"Then after this he said to the disciples, 'Let us go to Judea again.' The disciples said to him, 'Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?' Jesus answered, 'Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.' After saying these things, he said to them, 'Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.' The disciples said to him, 'Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.' Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, 'Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.' So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, 'Let us also go, that we may die with him.' " - John 11:7-16 ESV

The addict pursuing their addiction is a 'night walker'. They risk in hope of a fix. Lust drives this pursuit. Lust is blinding.

A spiritual person operates as a 'day walker' and risk is something taken into account in the light of what is at stake for someone else.

I can really relate to Thomas here. He sees the risk and wants to stay safe but at the same time He has tasted what it like to travel with Jesus so goes and even kind of sarcastically encourages someone else to go also.

Perhaps this risk is real physical danger or it might even be the risk of being emotionally unsettled (annoyed, saddened, angered, etc..). We protect ourselves in funny ways don't we? If we feel vulnerable and can either dive into danger as a 'night walkers' hoping for some relief or we can hold back and protect ourselves.

Missionaries are daywalkers.

"As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." - 2 Timothy 4:5 ESV

Yes. That is how Jesus was thinking. Do we dare to think with Him and let His brave mind dwell in us?


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Holy Ground

Holy ground is not like other places. Bushes burn and are not consumed. Darkness, thunder and lightning are there. One man glows with glory and Patriarchs speak. It is a place where a shoe must be removed so that skin touches the Earth. Minds change and are elevated because Heaven is overlapping with Earth in an unexplainable way.

If Jesus is just a regular man the mental ground you are standing on is common but if you have eyes to see He Is the Alpha and Omega that same ground is transformed. God is sending people from holy ground. He speaks on holy ground. The smoke of His glory fills that place. Love has terrible power. Judgements that cleanse are proclaimed. On holy ground God is immensely large and we are grateful witnesses to eternal history unfolding.

Golgotha was a bad place. It was a haunted killing ground but Jesus transformed it because of what He gave us. People have defiled minds and we all have places in our soul that are fallow. No plow has ever turned the soil but if Jesus visits that place it will be made holy. If He speaks life there it is a declaration that echoes into forever.

The Gospel has power. Revealing Jesus turns the common places into one where the shoe must come off. Mercy takes red guilt and replaces it with whiteness.


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Hard And Dirty Tasks

In the seventh verse of Philippians chapter two it says Jesus emptied Himself and took on the 'form of a servant.' That word for servant would be better translated slave or bondservant. These servants did the hard and dirty tasks. This person who was comfortable in and sure of His divine status daily woke up and found Himself as a human being. He wrapped a towel around Himself and washed His disciples feet. He healed people. He went out into nowhere to talk to one woman at a well. As a lamb sent to the slaughter He opened not His mouth. We think of that verse in application of His death but He was a man acquainted with sorrow who had joy above His fellows.

You can't help but get the impression that Jesus understood the hardness of life in a very personal way. He didn't shy away from what needed to be said or done. Perhaps because He wasn't worried about the consequences of doing what was next afraid that His life might get harder. A servant is already doing what no one else wants to do. He lived in joy as He did everything to the glory of His Father in Heaven.

Is it beneath us to serve? No. It is a protection. It is being like Jesus. It is strategic. We can be brave as servants. Jesus can strengthen us in that mindset. Maybe we want strength to reign but God wants to supply us the strength to serve so that we can reign as rulers who are not afraid to roll up our sleeves and do the hard and dirty tasks.


Monday, November 12, 2018

He Became A Man

God became a man. He ate. He slept. He wore and washed clothes. He got cold. He had friends and enemies. Demons feared Him. The Father loved Him. Amazing. This 'person' is sitting in Heaven now. That is a place we can't imagine but there is a person there who we can relate to and He can relate to us. His word holds our world together. We can be quiet because He has spoken. We can rest because we are known and accepted.


Friday, November 9, 2018

An Extra Large Place

It is hard to imagine that God has trouble finding guests for His party but imagine if you rented an extra large hall because you wanted to bless a big group of people.. God's heart (kingdom) is very large... He Is Love... He wants to make many people into special guests.

"... Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper." - Luke 14:21b-24 KJV

A major theme in my life lately has been 'hospitality'. I want to grow in this area. I see Jesus with twelve men around him and a multitude that grew and shrunk at different times in His Earthly ministry. He was and Is hospitable.

In the world, people want to have celebrities at their parties. Those gatherings are not for needy people. They are for people who can afford to look their best. The camera may zoom in on the token few who are invited to represent a needy group. God's room could hold that whole group. It can hold whole countries and nationalities.

Jesus invites 'celebrities' also but earlier in the chapter we see that many of those people refuse to come. Still, God has a big room and He wants to fill it. The poor, maimed and halt are not only welcome God wants them there. He sends people out to get them and those folks have needs that might prevent them if they didn't have help and encouragement.

Seeing God's large dining room dazzles and convicts me to live a more expansive life and not just a one crafted around the comfort of a few loved ones.

"Lift up your eyes all around, and see; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be carried on the hip. Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and exult, because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you. A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall bring good news, the praises of the LORD. All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered to you; the rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you; they shall come up with acceptance on my altar, and I will beautify my beautiful house. Who are these that fly like a cloud, and like doves to their windows? For the coastlands shall hope for me, the ships of Tarshish first, to bring your children from afar, their silver and gold with them, for the name of the LORD your God, and for the Holy One of Israel, because he has made you beautiful." - Isaiah 60:4-9 ESV

Are there extra chairs for guests in my heart? Perhaps that is a good investment.


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Honored Guests

In Luke chapter 14 Jesus speaks of the honored places at the host's table. He warns us that if we take them without being invited we might get displaced. Today I am thinking of those seats like the ideas we most cherish and want to keep near us. If we humble ourselves then we may get invited to the host's table in a person's life.

I invite Jesus to sit at my table. Worry can't have that seat. Shame and regret can go sit somewhere else. I want Jesus at my table. I want His thought to be right at my elbow.

Who sits close to you? It is your choice.


Monday, November 5, 2018

'I Know My Plans For You', Declares The Lord

This next passage is a wonderful promise given to Israel but it was given at a time when there were false prophets in their midst giving false hope.

"For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." - Jeremiah 29:10-11 ESV

We are not a nation in captivity but we are people who live in a perverse world. Things are not the way they are 'supposed to be' in relationships and politics. The ecosystem on our planet is suffering.

People retreat into fiction and there are always folks very ready to tell a good story to make people feel better.

There are two things that stand out to me in this passage from Jeremiah.

First, God is saying that what He has planned is on a strict timetable that he has ordained.

Secondly, (this is the first time I'm seeing this) God is talking 'from' the place of deliverance. He says, 'I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place'. He does not say 'that place'. He says 'this place' like He is standing in the place where He Is going to bring them as He Is making the promise.

This morning I am picturing Jesus seated at the right hand of the Father saying, 'I am standing here but one day you will be with me. Everything is timed out. The future I have planned is full of hope and to bring good things into your life.'

We can want things to be a certain way and there are voices out there that will declare that 'God' is saying all kinds of things that He just isn't saying. We need the objectivity of the Bible more now than ever before. God has spoken. It is all written in a book. We need the hope that God has given us. False hope will cause us to have a false emphasis which will lead to disappointment and disillusionment.

Our promises come from a Saviour who is seated at the right hand of the Father. Jesus Is our hope. It isn't in things or outcomes. It is in knowing Him and making Him known.


Saturday, November 3, 2018

Kenosis And Evangelism

Kenosis is self-emptying. It was part of the strategy used by the Trinity to redeem man. Jesus emptied Himself of power, wealth and privileges to fully identify with us.

That is like being let down on a rope into the deepest mineshaft imaginable to perform a rescue. You are only getting out again if the person at the top is trustworthy.

I associate evangelism with Kenosis. Some try to dazzle people and win them with a better argument. They use the promise of wealth, power and privilege to win a person but identification is the method the Trinity employs. Jesus said, 'The son of man has come...' and it was a bridge from the divine to the person who was lowest and highest in societies view.

I feel like a farmer talking to people. I am not powerful, influential or privileged. I am a person just like them but I have good seed to sow. It is seed that can spring up, 'to eternal life' if it finds good soil and takes root.


Friday, November 2, 2018

Jeroboam And The Man Of God

New Mercies. They are our daily provision. We interpret situations with them. We bring them into each relationship. The believer has newness each and every day. The prophets in the Hebrew scriptures are a great example of this. They lived in the fresh word they received from God in the midst of an often perverse world and culture. They confronted the wrongs in Israel but if they were in their right mind they didn't 'return the way they came in' to the situation.

"And he gave a sign the same day, saying, 'This is the sign that the LORD has spoken: 'Behold, the altar shall be torn down, and the ashes that are on it shall be poured out.'' And when the king heard the saying of the man of God, which he cried against the altar at Bethel, Jeroboam stretched out his hand from the altar, saying, 'Seize him.' And his hand, which he stretched out against him, dried up, so that he could not draw it back to himself. The altar also was torn down, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign that the man of God had given by the word of the LORD. And the king said to the man of God, 'Entreat now the favor of the LORD your God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me.' And the man of God entreated the LORD, and the king's hand was restored to him and became as it was before. And the king said to the man of God, 'Come home with me, and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward.' And the man of God said to the king, 'If you give me half your house, I will not go in with you. And I will not eat bread or drink water in this place, for so was it commanded me by the word of the LORD, saying, 'You shall neither eat bread nor drink water nor return by the way that you came.' ' So he went another way and did not return by the way that he came to Bethel." - 1 Kings 13:3-10 ESV

We can't fellowship with the way of compromise. Jeroboam's brother Rehoboam had made bad decisions and those decisions split the Hebrews into two nations. People who were loyal to Jeroboam's family stayed with him but he could not worship in the 'right place' so he set up a new place of worship that God could not and did not endorse.

Still... God had new mercy for Jeroboam. All he had to do was ask for it.

Often times we can look at people in the Bible and see that God gives us an account of them to reveal a mindset or method. I see Jeroboam as the 'old me' who is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Others have made bad decisions and I have to live with the consequences and there are no easy answers. The prophet is the 'new man' or 'new me'. He enters with clarity and mercy and somehow exits another way like the wind.

"The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." - John 3:8 ESV

One nation became two. Then after many trials and finally captivities the remnant of this nation returned in unity again and rebuilt the wall and temple (see Nehemiah, Ezra and 2 Chronicles 36:22f). We start out innocent but then something happens. The world harasses us and eventually, we are taken captive but Jesus brings us back 'into the land' in newness. We become a remnant. A people that lives in and moves in mercy.

Today is a day where we might be tempted to fellowship with the old but we have a new option. We can enter in mercy and leave in new mercy because we see Jesus. Wow. Thank You God.


Thursday, November 1, 2018

October And Some Thoughts On Division And Unification

October was an interesting full month. We spent a wonderful weekend with family up north. I attending a funeral. There was a business trip I took to go to a conference where most of the people there spent several days with a big group of people we didn't know before we got there. I watch groups form in healthy and unhealthy ways. One Saturday my plans got rearranged because a friend needed a ride. That diversion added to my life but I also didn't get things done that I had planned to do and that affected me also. I've been reading some wonderful Quaker writers who come at things from an angle I am not used to but have weighty things to say.

I sit here now thinking about why people come together, why we split apart and How God is involved in all of it. To find answers and definition I go to the scriptures and look there. I know I have biases and if I want to find real answers the scripture is where God will speak to me. My mathematics is flawed. My theology can become self-justifying.

At one point the nation that arose from Abraham's offspring split into two nations Israel and Judah. People got polarized and two groups formed. Both Israel and Judah ending up captive to foreign powers but they were brought into captivity at different times. Solomon was the last king to rule over a unified nation.

The reasons we split apart are many but in October I saw people come together at that funeral. I saw it happen at the conference and on our family trip. I met with people because a friend had a need. There was a cost involved in all of these ventures.

I sit here now conspiring with God and asking Him to give me creativity. Funerals bring people together that might not ever get together but are in one place on that one day. That is one way things happen but I want to see people joined in happier ways and for happier reasons don't you?

Help us God. Bring us together. We can form groups based on preference but that actually leads to divisions. Your cause has a purity found nowhere else. You bring life out of death.

"But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony." - Colossians 3:8-14 ESV

In Christ that which was separate becomes one.