Sunday, August 29, 2010
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Made for joy, we settle for pleasure.
Made for justice, we clamor for vengeance.
Made for relationship, we insist on our own way.
Made for beauty, we are satisfied with sentiment.
But new creation has already begun. The sun has begun to rise. Christians are called to leave behind, in the tomb of Jesus Christ, all that belongs to the brokenness and incompleteness of the present world.
It is time, in the power of the Spirit, to take up our proper role, our fully human role, as agents, heralds, and stewards of the new day that is dawning. That, quite simply, is what it means to be Christian: to follow Jesus Christ into the new world, God’s new world, which he has thrown open before us."
Friday, August 20, 2010
Thursday, August 19, 2010
--G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
"In a little while you will see (theoreo) me no more, and then, after a little while, you will see (horao) me." -- Jesus to the disciples, john.
Theoreo: to look carefully at, to fasten one's sight upon - the word describes the effort which is made to gain an accurate view of something in order to understand its meaning.
Horao: to see with the eyes - transitively, implying not the mere act of seeing, but also the actual perception of some object. To experience a revelation of something, be exposed to something, encounter, witness, and more intensively, to partake of or share in something, be in the presence of something and be affected by it.
"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." -- corinthians.
"I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh, I will see God; I myself will see Him. How my heart yearns within me!" -- job.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Throughout my first two weeks in Quepos, I have been blessed to meet a number of very kind people.
Although many here don't speak English, locals are very patient about language, and they have tried very hard to accomodate me and make me feel welcome.
One of the first families I met was a mother and her 3 children. The kids attend the school my friend Anna started, and so come by often to say hello and see Anna and play. Their mom - a small, bright-eyed Costa Rican who is quick to laugh - is a big help with all things involving the school.
Yesterday we were able to drive this family home from town and had the privilege of visiting their new house.
Getting to the house involved a long drive up one of Quepos' many mountains, over a number of one-lane roads and narrow drives, a hike down a very steep and muddy slope, and another climb back up an equally steep and muddy hill.
Their house is in such a precarious location because a month ago this family was forced to move by the Costa Rican government from their old house on the coast to this new one on the hill - with no warning and no assistance.
The house was small and constructed with pieces of wood and cardboard - the mattresses had no sheets and the entire place consisted of one room and a bathroom - to the standards of where we come from, in the eyes of the world, that little house was nothing.
This family had been forced to start again from scratch, and they had done what they could - shelter. roof. bathroom. bed.
And as I stepped through the little doorway of their home - this home built up on the side of a mountain with whatever materials could be found - I was struck.
Struck as I watched those three kids jumping on the couch that was their parents bed, making forts with the mattresses that made up their own, and laughing and playing and smiling and SHINING -
Struck as I listened to their mother tell stories of her new home and her husband and her children -
Struck by their family pictures and their flowered curtains and their freshly folded laundry and their laid-out snacks -
And as I took in all of this family's light, all of this family's joy -
God once again reminded me.
He reminded me
that wealth is not something tangible
that you hold in your hand;
that there is something greater out there -
Something of much more permanence and value.
And that something is full.
1 Timothy 6. Malachi 3. Psalm 4. Psalm 63. Psalm 119. Proverbs 3. Isaiah 45. Isaiah 55. Romans 11. Ephesians 1. Ephesians 2. Ephesians 3. Philippians 4. Colossians 1. Revelation 5.
Blessed are You, Oh Lord our God, who pours forth light and truth - who anoints us with the oil of joy.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Often self-centeredness and pride are thought to be the same thing, but selfishness can take on many forms.
Self-pity, arrogance, self-judgement, despair, and fear are all forms of self-centeredness - each one averts our eyes from God and places our focus on our own self: my day, my abilities, my sins, my trials, my shortcomings, etc.
And being focused on ourselves, even with the desire of wanting to be better, only works to distract us from what matters - experiencing the presence of God.
Our purpose in life is to seek the face of God - and whether I'm praising myself or beating myself up for something, I lose sight of Him.
Luke writes; From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him.
In the past few months God has been teaching me a lot about humility - that it isn't thinking lowly of myself, but that it's recognizing who I am before God. In fact, true humility is forgetting myself completely in His presence - letting all fall away but the reality of who He is.
My life should be the constant pursuit of seeking God's face in every situation.
In trials - we look for His teaching, His refinement.
In joys - we thank Him for His blessings.
In people - we look for the stamp of His image.
In creation - we look for His artistry.
In everyday simplicity - we look for His faithfulness, His work, His love.
All of this is for God, and He is in all things - the whole earth is full of His glory and created for His glory, even us.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,
And let us be encouraged, believing that God is not far from each one of us,
for in Him we live and move and have our being.
God is near.
1 Chronicles 28. Hebrews 2. Acts 17. 1 Corinthians 4. Ephesians 1. Matthew 7. Isaiah 6.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
-- thomas merton.
I constantly fall prey to the lie that I have to earn love.
That it is something to be strived for, gathered up, and paid for with the price of good deeds and good living.
(that whole works thing).
But God continues to remind me (ironically, through the faithfulness of the very love I so often doubt) that His love for me is constant, fierce, and unconditional.
It is nothing that has to be or can be earned.
He just loves me - for what I was, who I am, and what I am becoming.
He loves me, too, for who I can be - in Christ.
And this love of His is still shocking to me and oh-so-hard for me to grasp - this love that cannot be earned or discarded, this love that simply IS.
Because I am so unworthy of it - in all my selfishness and brokeness and weakness - and I always will be.
And yet, here it is - in all its glory and power and beauty - laid out at my feet, offered to me, consuming my life like a fire.
And the most interesting part of all of this is that when I finally do come to a place where I BELIEVE it - a place where I reach out in faith and accept this promise of love that I have been given and trust that it is real - trust that I AM, in fact, LOVED by God -
it is then (and only then) that all those WORKS fall into place.
For it is only when I really and fully trust in the fact that I am loved,
that I am truly able to love.
We love because He first loved us.
Remain in Me and I will remain in you.
Seek first His Kingdom, and the rest shall be added.
He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.
For in Him we live and move and have our being.
When I separate myself from the belief that I am wholly and perfectly loved by God (thereby denying Him who He is and ceasing to love Him), I lose my ability to offer real love to others.
And Jesus says that those two things, loving God and loving our neighbor, are the two things that sum up all the law and the prophets.
Believe. Be loved. Love.
So then, what I believe (not what I want to believe or what I tell people I believe, but what I REALLY truly believe way down at my deepest core) about who God is and what His love means is essential to everything else.
Believing that God is who He says He is - it's the most important thing.
It's what we need to seek first.
Which tells me that I better be serious about His Word (which Jesus tells us sanctifies us through its truth).
It tells me that I better continue to work out this faith of mine with fear and trembling - first so that I may believe, and second, so that I may love.
It all comes down to that.
Oh Lord, blessed Rabbi - help us overcome our unbelief!
Mark 9. Acts 17. John 15. John 17. 1 John 4. Matthew 6. Matthew 22. Jeremiah 31. Psalm 119. Philippians 2.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
For all of our sakes, I won't do that.
Instead, I am just going to recommend that you read it.
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Therefore keep me, above all things, from sin. Keep me from the murder of lust that blinds and poisons my heart. Keep me from loving money which is hatred, from avarice and ambition that suffocate my life. Keep me from the dead works of vanity and the thankless labor in which artists destroy themselves for pride and money and reputation, and saints are smothered under the avalanche of their own importunate zeal. Stanch in me the rank wound of covetousness and the hungers that exhaust my nature with their bleeding. Stamp out the serpent envy that stings love with poison and kills all joy. Untie my hands and deliver me from sloth. Set me free from the laziness that goes about disguised as activity when activity is not required of me, and from the cowardice that does what is not demanded, in order to escape sacrifice.
But give me the strength that waits upon You in silence and peace. Give me humility in which alone is rest, and deliver me from pride which is the heaviest of burdens. Possess my whole heart and soul with the simplicity of love. Occupy my whole life with the one thought and the one desire of love, that I may love not for the sake of merit, not for the sake of perfection, not for the sake of virtue, not for the sake of sanctity, but for You alone."
a prayer by thomas merton.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
"We are going to the House of the LORD."
Our feet stood inside your gates, O Jerusalem,
Jerusalem built up, a city knit together,
to which tribes would make pilgrimage,
the tribes of the LORD
- as was enjoined upon Israel -
to praise the name of the LORD.
There the thrones of judgement stood,
thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the well-being of Jerusalem;
"May those who love you be at peace.
May there be well-being within your ramparts,
peace in your citadels."
For the sake of my kin and friends,
I pray for your well-being;
for the sake of the house of the LORD our God,
I seek your good.
The Eastern Gate.
Monday, August 2, 2010
He reminds them that "God works for the good of those who love Him...for those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son."
Paul begins by stating that God is using all the circumstances of our lives for good, and that, through those circumstances, He is working to make us more like Jesus.
A few passages later, Paul asks a question:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
And following that question, Paul quotes a verse from the Old Testament. This is VERY important for the meaning of Paul's argument. Whenever an Old Testament verse is quoted, take note and go back and read the whole passage. Biblical Jews knew the text from memory, and would have immediately taken the verse in its entire context. Since we don't know the Bible as well as they did, we must go back and read the full passage, so as to get the entire meaning of the argument and what is being asserted in Paul's words.
The verse quoted is this:
For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.
This is a passage from Psalms 44. In this Psalm, David is wrestling with the Lord. He begins the Psalm by reminding God of what he has been told from His fathers about all the Lord has done in the past. Then, David challenges the Lord, saying,
But now you have rejected us and humbled us, you gave us up to be devoured like sheep...all this happened to us, though we had not forgotten you or been false to your covenant...if we had forgotten the name of our God...would not God have discovered it?...Awake Oh Lord! Why do you sleep? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever. Why do you hide your face and forget our misery and oppression?
In the midst of all this, David speaks the verse that Paul quotes: for your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered...
Do you hear the attitude that rings out in this Psalm, the message that is being implied to God from David?
God, look what we have done. we have not forgotten your covenant, and yet, you leave us as sheep to be slaughtered. How can you abandon us like this? Where are you? We've done our part, now You need to do yours. We are faithful. But YOU, you remain silent.
Basically David tells God He is being unfair.
It is the attitude of a martyr.
And what does Paul have to say about that spirit of matrydom?
We are not matryrs. And we have no right to claim ourselves as such, as if we had anything to offer God, as if God owes us anything.
Not even when it feels like we are sheep being led to slaughter - not even when it seems like God is hiding His face from us.
No, even then, God is working.
Who has the right to condemn? Jesus, and Jesus alone. The only person who gets to claim martyrdom is Jesus himself. Because He alone was blameless, and yet gave Himself up for us.
And it is only because of His grace, the grace that springs up from that sacrifice, that we are CONQUERERS.
HE sacrificed. HE saved. HE conquered.
And when we look at our circumstances and our sufferings as something that we are giving to God, as something good that we are doing, as something that He in turn, owes us for - then our heart is in the wrong place.
Because God does not owe us anything.
He never did.
And yet, He did not spare even His own Son, but sacrificed Him for OUR GOOD.
There is no room for self-righteousness in this equation. There should only be gratitude, humility, love.
And no matter the circumstances, whether they be good or bad (life, death, angels, demons, present, future, height, depth, or ANY powers), we need to know and claim that Jesus has conquered all things, and that we are conquerers with Him.
His martyrdom makes us conquerers, and nothing can separate us from that truth.
God is working for our good. He is trying to make us like His Son. And through it all, we conquer.
And so, when suffering comes, we rejoice. Because through it we have an opportunity to become more like Jesus, a man who was well-aquainted with suffering.
A man who suffered for no other reason than His love for us.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
“No one should live without a Rabbi or die without a disciple.” – rabbinical saying.
I have always loved this quote, because I believe the idea behind it to be so true - that God desires for each of us to be both mentor and disciple, teacher and student.
But I think the quote needs an addition.
Because there is mentorship and there is discipleship, but there is also friendship.
So in my head, I think the quote should go like this:
No one should live without a Rabbi, die without a disciple, or let one day pass without a Haver.
Haver is the Hebrew word meaning friend, companion, or comrade.
In the Biblical Jewish tradition, the word haver could mean something like a study-buddy – a companion who read, studied, recited, and asked questions of the Word alongside of you.
Basically, a haver is someone who you seek God with – a relationship between friends that works to sharpen and mutually encourage.
This idea is at the forefront for me this week, because after only 3 days in
I have been reminded, once again, of the importance of Haverim.
Because God has used Anna, already, in incredible ways to reveal to me who He is – to speak to me, to challenge me, and to make me extra excited about His Word.
In Matthew, Jesus promises us that when two or three are gathered in His name, He is with them.
And because God fills and teaches and relates to each person in unique ways, when we come together with others and seek God with them, our eyes can be opened to new truths, big truths, powerful truths – truths that we might not have gathered on our own.
God’s word tells us that we “are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”
These verses show us that we are each a part of the ONE house, and that God is building us together as a place that He might dwell.
God is communal, and God is discovered and seen and experienced through relationship. Without it, we can never fully know Him.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
This verse packs so much into so little, but the basic concept (I think) is this:
The Spirit of Jesus is graciously given to each one of us, as individuals, so that we might have strength to believe.
After we are rooted and established in His love, personally, we are then to come together as a community of believers in order to experience the FULLNESS of God’s presence and love.
A big part of understanding how wide and deep the love of Jesus is comes through the love we experience and offer in fellowship with fellow believers.
Disciples. Haverim. Rabbis.
We can experience God’s love on our own, but we cannot experience the FULLNESS of it unless we are in relationship with others.
And I believe this to be true, I claim it and witness to its truth, because I have experienced it in my own life.
I see God so much better when I see Him through many sets of eyes.
His love seems so much more astounding when I am asked to love others myself and realize how much it really requires – His grace seems so much more beautiful when I am offered it by others – His joy feels so much bigger when it is shared.
So - If you have people in your life that you respect and that are seeking God and that you learn from and feel encouraged by, be intentional about those relationships.
God puts people in our lives for a reason.
And if you desire a Haver and you can’t think of someone who could fit that role, PRAY.
I believe that God desires community for us, and Jesus Himself promises that when we seek things of His will, we will find them.
I leave you, today, with Shema.
Bendecire Tu Nombre.
Blessed be The Name.