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Category Archives: Gospel and Faith

The Christmas Paradox: A Labor of Love

This Christmas post is going to be a little different.  There is going to be a lot about Jesus, of course, but there will also be what I am going to call Theological Physics.  A little science mixed in with knowlege about God…hey, it’s Christmas!  Don’t worry, it won’t be too bad.  I hope.  This is part one.  I will save the physics and theology for part two.

For the last couple of years, a friend of mine has been telling me about Andrew Peterson’s Christmas Concert.  Andrew Peterson is a Contemporary Christian Music Artist and he has been doing a Christmas tour since 1999 where he goes through the story of Christmas but starts in the Old Testament and works his way through to the birth of Christ and its significance.  My friend said that there is an amazing song in this called, “A Labor of Love,” that talks about the birth of Christ in a very real way.  It was, afterall, an actual birth with everything that comes with that.

The tour and CD is called Behold the Lamb of God.  I knew we were going to be doing a lot of driving this year to our various Christmas gatherings and I wanted some new Christmas music to listen to besides the same songs they always play on the radio.  I remembered my friend talking about Andrew Peterson and that song, so we got the whole CD…I am a big fan of how the Christmas story fits into the “whole story” of the Bible, so I figured it would probably be pretty good.  It is.

We gave it a listen on one of our long drives to a family Christmas party.  I was completely enthralled with how they were able to weave the story of the Bible in such a cool way.  The songs about the Old Testament were amazing.  He wrapped the gest of Israel’s Biblical history into just a few songs, but it was done beautifully.  He built it up to the birth of Christ.  Then the song “Labor of Love” came on.  It was everything my friend said it was.  Graphic yet beautiful.  Then suddenly a line was sung that I was not prepared for…I didn’t see it coming and I don’t know that I will ever be theologically or philosophically the same.  A very simple string of words that left me in tears at the wonder of the gospel and amazing love of God.

I would encourage you to get the CD, listen to all the songs up to this one, and then hear these lyrics in context, but I am going to share the lines that rocked my little world.  It is a simple thought, but such a huge effect on me.  The context within the song is that Mary is giving birth on the ground of a dirty stable with no family except her new husband.  Joseph is there with her being as brave as he can given the earthy and heavenly circumstances.

So he held her and he prayed, shafts of moonlight on his face
But the baby in her womb, he was the maker of the moon
He was the Author of the Faith that could make the mountains move

This thought…I almost don’t have words to convey how God sent shockwaves through me with it.  You have a poor family in a stable.  A birth happening in the worst of situations.  We would call this horrible in our time.  Think about it.  A baby being born in a dirty, fifthy stable.  A place were dusty animals eat and use the bathroom.  No professionals around.  Just a man with rough hands from carpentry who probably did not know much about childbirth.  And there is Joseph trying to have enough faith to believe that an angel really did come to him and tell him that his wife is going to have a baby that is not his but was the work of the Holy Spirit.  Mary is going through the real pain of child birth.  No family.  No help.  Just Joseph.  She was probably trying her hardest to believe that he truly believed that all of this was really the work of God.

And then there is the baby.  The real son of God.  God in flesh.  The very Word of God that created the created everything was now a part of creation.  Get ready, because here is the thought that blew me away…Joseph had moonlight/starlight on his face as he mustered up the faith needed to guide this baby into the world as Mary gave birth…and this baby was the one who made the moon, and the stars, and gives us the ability to have faith in him.  He came up with the birthing process and was now experiencing it.  His hands molded the first man, Adam, and now one of Adam’s decendents was using his hands to guide the creator into creation.

Wow.  Do you get the contradictiction here?

I am going to let this one sink in.  Take some time to meditate on the thought of the maker of the moon being brought into the world to have the moonlight on his face.

Father, Jesus, Spirit, please fill us with the starking contrast of the reality that Jesus made the world and then was born into it.  You gave up the glory of the role of Creator to become part of creation.  More than that is why you did it.  You did it because we needed you to.  Only you could unravel the curse of sin by taking on a body that has the curse.  Then you lived a life that went against the curse…then you died to kill the curse.  Halellujah, what a savior.  Jesus, make yourself real to us today.  We pray this in your name.  I love you.  your son, joe

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Posted by on December 25, 2012 in Christmas, Gospel and Faith

 

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the sinner’s prayer PART II

Okay, finally the long awaited sequel to my last post…okay, there is probably no one waiting on pins and needles, but here it is.  It has taken me much longer to find the time to write than I hoped.  If you haven’t read the original post, go read the sinner’s prayer and then come back.

Parenthood has taught me that trust is the key.  My son does not want to trust that my wife and I actually care and are out for his better good.  He can only see what he wants or thinks that he needs.  This leads to a lot of headaches.  However, if I remember that trust is the key to his heart, it makes the conversations and decisions that need to be had and made so much easier.

The stuggles with this combined with a personal soapbox of mine a month or so ago…and God used this to start a little revolution in my heart.

A friend on Facebook shared about an event at church or a camp (I don’t remember which), during which a large group of people “accepted” Christ and “prayed the sinner’s prayer.”  I don’t put these in quotes to belittle these two things, but I do it to emphasize what my issue is that has become a soapbox.

I grew up in a chruch tradition where getting people to “accept Christ” and “pray the prayer” was the ultimate goal.  There was acknowlegement of the need to disciple people, but the practice was that “coming to faith” was the greater goal.  Not that there is anything wrong with this.  But, I have come to having a growing uneasiness about the concentration on the “moment” of becoming a Christian that his leads to.

There are two by-products that can come from this, that I know can cause some major issues.  One is that some people think that if they go through the action of praying the sinner’s prayer, and even follow it up with a short time of religious zeal, that this is enough evidence that they are right with God and have secured their ticket to Heaven.  What is done the rest of their lives does not matter as long as they can look back to that one moment or short span of time.    They can live the rest of their lives however they want, as long as they know that at one point they “accepted Christ into their heart.”  They can go on living or thinking how they did before, as long as they have their Heaven pass and maybe go to church ever once in a while.   There are a lot of people that think that this is okay, and even people who really are Christians that look to this for comfort about loved ones that may not truly be.

I know I am asking for backlash as I get into this, but hear me out…please.

I do not think the Bible supports this.  There is eobviously going to be a moment in time when someone truly believes and the Spirit comes to live in his or her heart.  This is clear.  I just don’t think that the emphasis needs to be on that moment in time, but on the evidence that this change brings.  Jesus, in the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1-23), talked about the idea that not every heart that hears his message and accepts it will truly take hold of it.  There is the group of people that will hear it and not accept it and three groups that will accept it, but there was only one group that held on to it and changed.  The evidence was in the growth.

Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts.  The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy.  But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word.  The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced.  The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!

The last sentence sums it all up…those who truly believe are those that produce a harvest.  The harvest, I believe, is the heart change that proves a new life in Christ…and when someone is truly changed, it will spread to others…and this spreading is when there is a harvest bigger than the seed that was planted.  One heart changed, and I mean really changed, will lead to the heart change of others.

Now, let me just do a quick side note.  I am not saying that what we do (good or bad) can change our standing with God.  We can never be good enough.  So when a person continues living the way they did before they “prayed the prayer”…what they are doing is not what keeps them from Heaven.  Going to church every time the doors are open and living a “Christian lifesyle” does not guarantee a right standing with God.  Only Jesus sacrafice on the cross can do this.  Jesus lived the life that we couldn’t…never breaking God’s law and living out of total trust in the Father…and then he died on the cross.  Jesus did not have to die.  He was not under the curse of death because he never broke the law that death is the penalty for…so dying at all was not in the cards for him.  This freed him up to die in our place.  To take our punishment…our curse on himself.

More than that, he died a gruesome death.  A torturous death.  He did this because he not only took our curse, but he also took the wrath of God in our place.  This was because we, as humans, have come up with a lot of ways to pervert God’s creation and the life he has given us.  This has led to God’s anger on top of separating us from him.  Jesus dying the way that he did, on the cross, took on the wrath of God for even the vilest of offenses.  There is nothing that we can do that is so bad that Jesus sacrafice can not covered.  He took the wrath and scorn for even the worst of things that humans can come up with.

And God accepted this sacrafice.  Jesus’s death was accepted as our.  His tortured murder fulfilled the wrath we deserve.  We know this because three days later, he came back from death.  The price was paid.  The jail time was served.  Once jail time is served, the prisoners are set free.  Jesus walked out of the prison, and it crumbled behind him.  For more on this, read Action Hero Jesus.

I said all of this to bold face the point that it is not what we do that saves us…but if we are brought back from the dead through what Jesus did, we will not be the same.  Our heart will change.  If we truly believe, the Holy Spirit…the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead…lives in our heart.  If the one whose power raises from the dead lives inside of us, we will not be the same.  We will love more, put others needs before ours, and start to live life differently.  This change is the first hint at the harvest.  It is the first few apples on the tree.  Then as you change, this will cause others to want to change.  They will want what you have.  They will want to go to Christ and be changed…which will lead to them having a harvest, causing Jesus’s harvest in you to grow and grow.

There has to be a change.  The change is the evidence.  Not the prayer you prayed.  Not the pastor’s hand that you shook.  Not the moment you came to faith.  It is the change that others can see.  You do not cause this change.  It is organic.  It happens because you can not be the same when you truly trust Jesus as your savior.

The second major problem with the focus on the moment and prayer is that those who grow up in church and a Christian family can confuse the values they grow up with is the change that being a true believer brings.  You prayed the prayer and live a Christian lifestyle, so you assume you are right with God.  BUT, again, it is about what you do.  This is my story.  I was not a Christian for most of my life, but I thought I was.  I never truly looked to Christ’s sacrafice as my saving grace.  My only evidence was the things that I did.  I did not have heart change.  Because I have gone long again, if you want to read about my story of life change go check out My Time Travel Testimony.

Once again, it is not about the prayer.  It is about the change in your heart, mind, and life.

Here I go again…never got to the lesson about the sinner’s prayer.  So I have to do a part three.  I promise.  The lesson is good.

Father, Jesus, Spirit, please continue to teach me and help me trust in you alone.  your son, joe

 

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Christmas Thoughts: Jesus’ Stepdad

Before I start, if you have not read the post Christmas Thoughts: The Silence Has Broken and then come back to this one.  I am going to make a few references to what I wrote there.

I remember the first time that I heard the term “stepdad” in reference to Joseph.  It was in a Christmas song called What We Call Christmas by the band Bleach.  I was kind of offended.  Why refer to Joseph this way.  Eventually, I realized that it was an apt term. Joseph really was Jesus’ step-father. Jesus was/is God’s son…Joseph was, for lack of a better word, his custodial guardian.

There are two things about this that stand out to me. The first is that We can never be ready, truly ready, for how God is going to work things out. Jesus was/is the promised Messiah. No one expected him to be born into the family of a common construction worker and his wife, who got pregnant before she was married.

On top of that, imagine how Joseph was feeling. He is about to be married, following all of the Jewish laws of purity, and his fiance comes to him with, “I’m pregnant, but it’s not what you think…it is God’s son.”

I can just imagine what Joseph was thinking…not only was this girl cheating on him, she might be a bit crazy. Until recently, I have always forgotten the humanity of the people in this story. I guess I have always “holy-fied” them. I didn’t think about the human-ness of Joseph in how he must have felt when Mary gave him the news. But why would he believe what she said. I mean, come on, it is a little far-fetched. Remember, there had been a 400 year silence between God and the Jews, and on top of that, why would the Messiah come through an unwed mother? That is kind of far outside if Jewish law.

No wonder God had to send supernatural intervention to stop old Joe from ending the betroval quietly. Talk about a rude awakening. Joseph probably had trouble getting to sleep that night, and in the middle of his restless sleep, Gabriel, one of the head angels, pays him a visit. “Joseph, this is for real. You are going to name the boy Jesus, and you are going to raise him. You are going to raise the Messiah as your son.”

I don’t know about you, but I think I would have had to change my jammies…and not because of the heavenly visitor. He was just told that he is going to be the adoptive father to the Son of God and Savior of Israel. Gulp. Talk about a big pill to swallow.

What do you say to that? How do you deal with that? How do you prepare for that? How do you get ready to teach, discipline, and parent God’s son? Additionally, how do you explain this to your family and friends? I bet he could already hear them all, ” Suuuuuure, it’s not your baby. I am sure it is the ‘Son of God.’. Sure, Joe, we believe you.”

The story of Jesus’ coming as a baby is real, and it is a real story. The people are real. Joseph really was asked to raise a child that was not his. He was given the job of raising the Messiah. He really was to marry a pregnant Mary, no matter what anyone said. It is much easier to believe a real story, and this one is real and as full of the aspects of reality that we all know.

This brings me to the second thing that Joseph-the-Stepdad makes me realize. Jesus understands us. As Christians, we are adopted children of God. Jesus knows what this is like. He was the son of God adopted by a man…as we are the son of men adopted by God. He knows the learning curve. He understands. He is like us and we are like him.

And lastly, this brings me to one last point. Adoption is near and dear to God’s heart. Jesus was adopted, we are adopted, and he wants us to care for orphans. I will post more about this another day, but please think about doing something for children who don’t have parents to love and care for them. Adoption, fostering, or just reaching out to children in need is something God has called us to. Remembering Jesus’ adoption by Joseph should remind us about this.

I will end on that note. I think we have a lot to chew on.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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Christmas Thoughts: Silence Has Broken

As you could probably tell from my last two posts, I am looking at Christmas completely different this year.  One of the themes that the Spirit keeps bringing to mind is the miracle of the moment that Christmas represents: Jesus stepping into his creation to set the ball in motion for his taking on the sin of the world and making us right with God.  This theme has two parts for me: the obvious Gospel connection, but the other side of it is God’s relationship with Israel and how Jesus birth turned that relationship on its head.

Jesus birth heralded the breaking of the silence between God and his chosen people.  The story of the Bible is the story of God’s relationship with humankind.  This relationship is personified in his relationship with the Israelites.  He chose a people to be his own.  A people to allow him to give a real picture of who he is, a loving and merciful God who, though he is holy, he is also compassionate and forgiving.  He would allow this people to trust him and prove that he can be trusted.  A people that will make him angry, but that he will always accept with open arms if they would just turn back to him in trust.  It is this picture that will eventually apply to all people that trust in his son, Jesus.

A part of any relationship is communication and a give and take.  The history of the Hebrew people and their relationship to God is more of a take relationship.  They take while God gives.  God is patient, but broken trust led to hardships for Israel.  I was working on a brief and abridged history of the Old Testament, but it got too long to put in this post.  I will probably make it a seperate post to refer to in other posts, but the theme that stood out to me as I was writing it was this:

  • God blesses Abraham and his family.
  • Abraham and his family accept the blessing.
  • God tells them how to trust him and prove their trust.
  • Abraham and family move outside of this.
  • God gets angry, but moves out of compassion to their aid.
  • There is a broken relationship and a silence.
  • Abraham and his family deals with consequences because of their lack of trust.
  • They cry out to God.
  • God hears them and moves.
  • Relationship is restored.
  • The cycle repeats.

Now, the thing that happens over time is that the more people there are among the Israelite people, the bigger the broken trust becomes.  The bigger the broken trust, the bigger the broken relationship.  The bigger the consequences, the bigger the cry to God.  The bigger the cry, the more God moves miraculously to their aid.  The bigger the move to their aid, the deeper the relationship becomes.

There are two times in Old Testament history that the broken relationship and silence is the biggest, and the first one is early on.  It is the gap of time between Joseph and Moses.  The best that I can see, after God rescues Jacob’s family from the edge of extinction during the famine there is a time in which there is very little movement between God and the Israelites…at least none that we are privy to.  As far as the cause of this, all I can figure out is that Jacob constantly tried to live the relationship with God and God’s promises to him on his own terms.  His sons seem to be the same way.  Even Joseph is pretty prideful before he is sold as a slave (it is only thing to have a dream in which your family bows down to you, it is something else to brag to them about it).  This pride in the family was probably a pretty major breach of trust that needed to be broken to deepen the relationship.

So, there is nearly a 400 year silence.  This is broken when Moses, the one who was exiled from both Pharoh’s family and the Israelites and was now living in the wilderness with “unchosen” members of Abraham’s family as a shepherd, was tending flocks and God spoke to him through a burning bush.  No wonder he was afraid to be God’s spokesperson!  Not only was he really not an invited member of Abraham’s family, he was sent to claim that God was now ready to repair the relationship with people who felt abandoned by him!  This a major break in silence!

And through the story of the Exodus, God moved in a major way to repair a major rift in the relationship with his people.  Though this cycle of broken relationship happened over and over again in the wilderness, the relationship really was a lot deeper afterwards.   However, with this came bigger and bigger movements of lack of trust on the part of the Hebrews.  This moved them and God further and further apart.

The story of God’s people once they settled in the “promised land” is a constant recycling of the broken trust circle of life.  God’s warnings became more and more severe, but his moves of compassion became bigger and bigger, as well.  Eventually, the broken trust led God to allow his warnings to become reality and his people were taken from the land he gave them.  It was during this time that God kept sending people to warn that there would be a major break in relationship if they did not turn back in complete trust to him…but he also kept promising a future in which the relationship would be completely restored by a coming King…his chosen servant who would make everything right forever between God and his people.

After God heard the cried of the exiled Israelites, he brought them back to Israel.  He saved them, but they had to deal with the consequences.  After over 1000 years of deepened relationship between God and his people, God went silent again.  Their pride and arrogance caused a lack of trust that broke the relationship.  Remember, the deeper the relationship, the deeper and darker the silence becomes.  During this time, Israel was never truly free.  Captive to several nations.  It was another 400 year silence, but this one was worse.  Israel lost their place as God’s blessed nation.  The people sought God, but God did not send any more messengers.  I can not even imagine this, as the citizen of a country less than 300 years old and as someone who has God’s Spirit with me constantly.  I don’t have words to describe what this silence must have been like (no pun intended).

Religion became ritual.  People used it for power.  Commoners believed in God but did not understand him.  The scriptures were read, but not comprehended.  God was a part of their culture, but not an intregal part of their lives.

This was the silence that was broken by the cry of a baby.  Shouts from angels to sleepy shepherds ended God’s broken communication.  Visions and dreams were given again.  A supernatural star broke the monotony of the same nightime scenery seen for 400 years.

A baby broke the silence.  The chosen one had come.  God’s annointed one would repair the relationship between God and man forever.  And he laid in a cattle feeding trough being watched by a carpenter and his wife along with dirty shepherd and animals probably marked for sacrafice.

It came upon a midnight clear…and the silence was broken once and for all.

Father, Jesus, and Spirit, thank you for breaking the silence.  Thank you for repairing the relationship.  Thank you for allowing me to be accepted by you.  Please help my trust to be real and my love to be true.  Your son and dependent, Joe.

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Christmas Thoughts: Dear Lord Baby Jesus

I have had so many thoughts and lessons from God this Christmas season, but so little time and/or energy to share them here.  Because I am now out for winter break (I am a teacher, if you didn’t know), I have some time.  I have decided to do a series of posts that I will put up when ever time allows for some writing.  So there may be a string of them in one day, or days between them.  We’ll see how it goes.  Anyway, without further ado, here is the first of what I hope will be many before the 25th of December.

I am going to start with a soap box issue for me.  Possibly not the best jumping off point to inspire you to read future posts in this series, but I have to start where my thoughts started this year.  It is probably an overplayed issure, but it is my turn to pipe in on it.  Over commercialization of Christmas, however this is not just about Walmart (and other stores) starting the Christmas rush earlier and earlier every year…it is more about Christians buying into the over commercializing of the birth of Jesus and trivializing what his birth truly means.

Christmas is the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.  Jesus was born into the human existence as a real human baby, which let him live a normal human life sinlessly (as prescribed to the Israelites by God through Moses), which allowed him to die a death he did not deserve and take the wrath of God that we deserve. and then he was raised from the dead to show that his payment for our sin was accepted as paid in full and the grave no longer had any rights to him.  Jesus being born is a big deal.  However, I think that the over commericialization of Christmas has led most Christians into missing the point of Jesus’ birth.

Don’t get me wrong.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating the Christ-child.  There are what I like to call the three “ions” that are key to the Christian faith.  The Incarnation (Jesus stepping out of heaven to live the human experience…just without sinning), the Crucifiction (Jesus dying a greusome death on the cross and being separated completely from God, and doing so to pay the price for our sin), and the Resurrection (Jesus being raised from the dead because the price was paid and death could not hold him).  Jesus’ birthday is the Incarnation side of things, and it is very important.  I just think as celebration of Christmas becomes bigger and bigger (and earlier and earlier), we lose sight of why it is important, and Christians start becoming more and more like the main character in the movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.

The movie stars Will Farrell as a Nascar driver.  I do not know a whole lot about the movie, because I have never actually watched it.  But there are scenes that I remember from the ads for it and that I have heard quoted and eventually watched online.  The parts of the movie that I am referring to are parodies of how some Christians can act, and they are extremely over-the-top and sacreligious.  For that reason, I won’t share a link to YouTube or quote the movie.  I will just summarize what my reference is about.

The main character, Ricky Bobby, is a “christian.”  He prays often in the movie, but he prays to “Lord Baby Jesus.”  There are a few scenes with prayers in which he makes several allusions to Jesus as a baby.  He even gets into arguments with his family about it and how Jesus was not just a baby.  He response was always that he likes Baby Jesus the best and that is who he prays to and worships.  Like I said, it is over-the-top and a satire of how some people seem to be.  My fear is that we all take on shades of this sometimes at Christmas.

We get caught up with the magic and wonder of Jesus as a baby, which in of itself is not bad.  It was the miracle of God leaving Heaven to come to Earth as our Savior.  It is something to celebrate.  I think we just forget to focus on the why part of why Jesus had to become a baby to save us.  I know I do.  It is so easy to get caught up in Christmas and the Christmas traditions.

This year, I have really been convicted about this.  After reading through the Bible, the Holy Spirit has been able to show me over and over why Jesus had to come.  It is because he had to be human and live that life so that he could sacrafice it for my sin.

The “reason for the season” is that I am a sinner who is separated from God.  Only God himself can save me.  Jesus is God in flesh.  He came to Earth and lived the live I couldn’t.  Because he lived a sinless life, he could give that life up.  He did not have to die.  He never sinned, so he did not deserve death.  Not only did he not have to die, he did not deserve to be tortured and then separated from God the Father and the Holy Spirit.  He was separated from them on the cross and then again as he was in the grave for three days (and what ever the sinners after life is).  The one who had lived in eternity past with the Father and Spirit was separated from them for days.  That may not seem like long to us, but I am sure it was like forever to him.  He then came back from the dead because the price was paid.  Prisoners do not have to stay in prison once the sentence is up.  Jesus walked away from the jail (while it blew up behind him…see Action Hero Jesus for more).  He came, lived, died, and rose again.  It it was all because I was a sinner who needed to be saved.

Baby Jesus is important, but it is not everything.  It is not even why Christmas is important.  God heard our cries, and he came and saved us.  Jesus being born is about him accepting our death.  This is what Christmas is about.

Father, Jesus, and Spirit, please do not let me miss the point and the reason for Christmas this year.  Thank you for saving me.  Thank you for your sacrafice.  Thank you for your love.  Your son and dependent, Joe.

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Posted by on December 18, 2011 in Christmas, Gospel and Faith

 

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The Teacher is Coming…Look Busy

I have been in quite the reflective mood as of late.  I have thought of and have started to “mentally write” a bunch of different blogposts.  I have not had the time to sit down and seriously write in a while, and now that I have a few minutes I think I am going to write something other than what I thought I would write about.

I have mentioned a few times in the past about the journey God put me on in March of this year to read through the Bible.  Even though I studied the Bible in college (the first time I went), I never read through the entire Bible cover to cover.  I was challenged to do so by an English professor when I was in school and then not again until I read the book Radical this year.  God really burned it on my heart to do this, so I started in March.  Now, here at the middle of Novemeber, I am three One Year Bible days away from finishing.

I am not sharing this to boast that I read through the Bible in nine months.  No, that is not it at all.  It is more the opposite.  I am completely humbled by it.  Something has happened to me through the Bible.  I am not sure if I can completely explain it, but I am different.  I am changed.

A few major things that I have realized:

  • The Bible is not what I thought.  It truly is the story of a loving God pursuing his people.
  • God is not who I thought.  He is loving.  He is vengeful.  He is just.  He is mercy.  He is jealous.  He is patient.  He is all of what we as humans are, but He is holy, pure, and above all that we are.
  • The Holy Spirit is not who/what I thought.  He is real.  He is God.  He is the presence of God in our lives.  He speaks.  He moves.  He calls.  He disciplines.  He is our source to be more like God.  Without Him we have nothing.
  • Jesus is not who I thought.  He has been since the beginning.  He is ever present in both the Old and New Testaments.  He is the promise of God since the beginning.  He really lived a sinless life.  He really died a sinners death.  He really rose again to show that the price was paid for our sin.  He really lives and is in Heaven.  He is really coming back.  He really loves us.  He really accepts us.  He worked to hard for us to give up on us.
  • We, humans, are not who I thought.  We really are sinful.  We really are incapable of living and trusting God as he intended on our own.  Our hearts are really crooked deep down.  We can not straighten ourselves out.  We need a savior.  We need a helper.  We need a God.  We can be made new.  We are made whole through Jesus.

As I am completing this journey (before I start it all back over again) and look back at how it has changed me, I am reminded of something that I heard someone say ten or so years ago.  There is a guy named Marquis Laughlin, and he does dramatic readings of books of the Bible (he has whole books of the Bible memorized…it is amazing).  I saw him perform the book of John.  It was one of the coolest things I have ever seen, and it brought the book alive to me in more ways than one.  At the end, he talked about what it is like to do this.  He said that one of the questions he gets all of the time is, “What is it like knowing whole books of the Bible and performing them?”

He said that it is like being in school in a classroom when the teacher has stepped out for a minute and left the students alone.  The students kind of do their own thing, but they have a look out at the door to let everyone know when the teacher is coming back.  He said that he feels like the student standing at the door.  He knows the Teacher is coming back and can see him down the hall.  He wants everyone to know that the Teacher is coming and we need to be doing the work that he left for us to do.  And that work is to love God and love other people.  Love is our job and we need to start doing it because the Teacher is almost to the door.

This is exactly how I feel on this side of my journey.  The Teacher is definitely coming back and He has definitely given us something to do.  We need to be about love.  We need to love generously and wrecklessly.  That kind of love changes the world, and we need to be changing the world when the Teacher comes back becuase that is the assignment he gave us when we left.

Performancing Metrics

 

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Killed to Death

A friend shared this post on Facebook.  I laughed to the point that LA just had to know what it was.  She is not a Facebooker, and doesn’t really get why I enjoy reading people’s updates and whatnot.  Every once in a while, though, my reaction is enough to get her curious.  This was one of those times.

Okay, I know, I probably should not find hilarity over the death of someone.  I agree…however, I am laughing at the gaff made by who ever was in charge of the CG (character generator…what is used to create titles for TV).  It was probably a simple mistake, but it is still funny.  I laughed even as I looked at it again to get the picture to post here.  You can’t deny that it hits you in the funny bone.

I wanted to post something more light-hearted given all of the serious and challenging posts here lately.  I don’t want to get in a rut of only posting things like that.  So for a more cheery side to me, I am going to talk about death.

***SPOILER ALERT***

We are all going to die one day.  Yep.  Death is inevitable.  Yes, even you.  Even me.  All of us.  Sorry if you are the last one to find out, but it is true.

I am not sure on the timeline of things (I do have a really cool LOST-like theory, though), but at some point after death we are going to face God in judgment.  He is going to present our lives, the whole thing, and call us to account for what we have done.  We are going to have to answer for our sin, our pride, and our care (or lack thereof) of others.  I am going to be called out, and I will have to answer.

What can I say?  I will have to admit that I have lied, cheated, stolen, lusted, hated, disobeyed, disrespected, coveted, put myself first, and have not looked out for the interest of others before me.  I will have to admit these and probably millions of other things.  I will have to throw myself before God and say that I have done all of this and more.  However, I will also have the chance to call on his promises.

I will be able to say that though I have done all of these things, I can not serve the punishment for them.  I will remind God that his own Son Jesus died and took the wrath for my life and sins.  I will show him the marks of the Spirit in my life.  I will throw myself upon his mercy and cry out for Jesus to come and be my righteousness.

I am not sure what will happen next in detail, but in some way this will be enough.  Maybe Jesus will come to my defense, and as evidence present his scars.  What ever it is, I will be acquitted.  I know there maybe some consquences or something related to how well I have used the life given me through Christ and the Spirit, but I survive the judgement and be ushered into the the new life.  The life after life here on Earth.  Take a look at John 3:13-18 if you want to know why I know something will happen to save me from judgment.

I am not sure what Heaven is like, but I know I will be there.  I will be with the billions before the Throne of God.  I will praise Jesus as the Lamb of God.  I will eat at the wedding feast.  I will enjoy life with God forever.  I don’t know what that is like, but I can’t wait.

One day I will be “killed to death,” but I don’t fear that day.  To live is Christ, but to die is gain.  I love living here on Earth, but it is not my home…and that is the place I will go when I close my eyes here.  I just hope to bring as many people as I can with me (to Heaven, not death!).  I love what Rich Mullins said in the song Land of My Sojourn and I will close with this:

Nobody tells you when you get born here
How much you’ll come to love it
And how you’ll never belong here
So I call you my country
And I’ll
be lonely for my home
And I wish that I could take you there with me

 

Performancing Metrics

 

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