Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
Oh LORD. Blessed refuge.
Teach me how.
Make me strong in YOU ALONE.
You are my hope.
Friday, September 24, 2010
In Biblical times, when a covenant was made between two parties, there was a formal way to go about establishing that covenant.
If it was a covenant between a greater and a lesser party, like Abraham and God, then the lesser party would kill a number of animals and cut them in half, letting the blood of the animals drain into a type of ditch, creating a blood path.
This blood path would then be walked through by both parties, signifying that the covenant being made was binding, and that the punishment for breaking it would be death.
Basically, as you walked through the blood you were saying, "If I don't hold up my part of the covenant, then my blood will run like the blood I walk through."
In Genesis 17, we see the terms of the covenant laid out by God. He says to Abraham: "I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. I will confirm my covenant with you and will greatly increase your numbers."
So, the terms of the covenant between Abraham and God are as such: God greatly increases Abraham's numbers and blesses him, if Abraham walks before God blamelessly.
The word means wholly, perfectly, and is often used in the Bible to signify a lamb without defect.
Basically, God is saying to Abraham: your part of the covenant is to be perfect.
So it comes as no surprise that after Abraham sets up the blood path, he "fell into a deep sleep, and a thick darkness came over him."
The phrase "thick darkness" in the original Hebrew means "dark terror."
Abraham was terrified to enter into this covenant with God.
Because Abraham knew.
Abraham knew that he could never walk perfectly before the LORD no matter how hard he tried, and therefore as soon as he walked through that blood path, he was destined for death.
He could never do it. For Abraham, this was an impossible covenant.
But then something interesting happens.
The Word says that after the sun had set, as Abraham was sleeping/fretting in terror, "a smoking fire pot with a blazing torch appeared and passed before the pieces."
A smoking fire pot, with a blazing torch.
Smoke. and fire.
These are the two images God's uses to signify the manifestation of His presence in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Smoke and Fire, One, then two.
God walks through the blood path TWICE.
The answer to that question is nothing short of astounding.
God walked through the blood path twice,
because He too, knew.
God knew that Abraham and Abraham's descendants could never walk blamelessly before Him.
Never never ever.
God knew that if it was left up to us, the covenant would be broken, and we would fail.
God knew that if this thing was going to work,
if we were ever to be blameless and saved and blessed,
that someone far greater than us would be needed.
Yes. God knew.
God knew that He would have to do it for us.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." -- romans.
"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you by your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect." -- 1 peter.
"I have loved you with an everlasting love." -- God's promise to us, jeremiah.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
"And what does the LORD require of you? Only to do justice, and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God." -- micah.
"Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom." -- james.
As I read through God's Word, I am noticing again and again a basic concept,
and it seems to be this:
The more we walk with God,
the more understanding we gain from
His Word and from His presence,
the more humble, the more gentle, the more grateful we should become.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Raise us up Lord, send us out.
Make us many.
Make us one.
Friday, September 17, 2010
"This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him. For the LORD is your life."
-- excerpts, Deuteronomy 30.
The word "choose" in the above passage is "Bahar," and is defined in my Hebrew Study Bible as this:
Bahar: to prove, try, choose, select, distinguish, to love, like, be pleasing, be especially chosen. The term denotes taking a keen look. Something is deemed acceptable or judged to be excellent after it has been tested. Also signifies a careful, well thought out choice.
God has gifted us and graced us with His blessed Word, and He tells us that it is always near.
God also tells us in Deuteronomy that His Word is not too difficult for us or beyond our reach.
But, in order for that to be true, we must choose it
We must take His Word that is near, and look keenly at it. We must carefully read through it and think on it, testing it against our hearts and struggling with it, putting forth the effort to know and understand it, so that it can be placed in our hearts and in our mouths like God promises it will.
The Word does not return void.
And if we will only choose to look at it, wrestle with it, ask it questions, carefully pay it attention, and test its truth in our lives - then we begin to see for ourselves the truth that this Word is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword.
We begin to see and experience - to SHEMA - that the Word of God really does bring life, joy, peace, and truth.
But in order to see it, we must choose it.
The WORD speaks.
It really does.
But we have to let it.
Psalm 119. Deuteronomy 30. Hebrews 4.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
"The description of Israel as "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" alludes to the consequences that flow or should flow from that special relationship with God. The priests are set apart from the rest of the people by dedication to the service of God, by their consecration to a distinctive way of life that gives expression to this intimate involvement with the divine through special duties and restrictions, and by the obligation to serve the people. This concept of priesthood provides the model for Israel's self-image and for it's role among the nations of the world." -- nahum m. sarna, exploring exodus.
"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. -- 1 peter 2.
unified. set apart. declarers of light.
that is who we, the church, are meant to be.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
God puts His Name on us.
we carry it.
we bear it.
We are this Name's ambassadors.
And much of the picture our world sees of the Holy Being this Name represents comes from the way in which we carry it.
This Name we carry is
It is full of GLORY.
and the glory of this Name
as we carry it,
use it well.
These are the Names that we carry.
Oh LORD, grant us humble spirits,
that we might carry them well.
blessed be the Name.
Monday, September 13, 2010
"The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as He did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert. There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries His son, all the way you went until you reached this place. In spite of this, you did not trust in the LORD your God, who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go."
"She has not acknowledged that I was the one
who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil,
who lavished on her the silver and gold.
Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the desert
and speak tenderly to her."
Oh Lord, Gracious Father, forgive my unbelief.
You have been faithful all my life, and I have seen many wonders - yet still I forget.
It is You who lead. It is You who plan. It is You who carry.
And you do it so well.
I acknowledge today your care, your discipline, and your incredible presence in my life.
I thank you for this desert.
And I thank you for Your tender voice, ever before me, alluring me and speaking to me above the rest.
Friday, September 10, 2010
"So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.
For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched woman I am.
Who will rescue me from this body of death?"
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
I made this decision based on the fact that: 1) I am going through a time of transition and upheaval, 2) money is scarce, and 3) I am finding myself, at times, forgetting to trust.
But in Matthew 6, Jesus tells me not to worry about my life.
In Matthew 6, He commands me not to be afraid, that I am worth more than many sparrows.
In Matthew 6, Jesus reminds me that God is the One who feeds, clothes, and looks after.
And I want to be able to live boldly in that truth.
But to live boldly demands trust.
And trust requires mindset.
And mindset begins with remembering.
And remembering grows from MEMORY.
So. I will memorize.
I will memorize because I want the truth of that incredible passage to bounce around in my brain until it burrows its way into every nook and corner of my thoughts.
I will memorize because I want the fears that reach into my deepest soul to be pulled out and shattered against the iron of the words of Jesus.
I will memorize because I want the concept "do not worry" to take root in the core of my being and bloom, growing until its leaves and petals have woven their way through all of my thoughts, my hopes, my choices, my dreams.
I will memorize because I want a life that witnesses to the fact that God DID NOT give me a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.
In the Name of Jesus.
That's what I want to be about.
Saturday, September 4, 2010
A friend of mine once said to me; "I pray you learn to bring your loneliness to God."
And that idea has really stuck with me this past year.
Because we all have this crater in our gut that doesn't go away unless it's filled with the presence of God.
And although we try to fill it with thousands of other things, there's always an emptiness that remains in us until we learn to call on the name of Jesus - until we allow Him to rush in and be our Source of life.
I'm learning that the hard way.
The lonely way.
(is there any other way to learn it?)
I got mad at God the other night - wondering at Him why I keep hitting bottom, why I continue to feel stuck and unfulfilled and lacking - why my heart feels so empty when I am trying so hard to seek, to follow.
Why there is so much SILENCE.
But I soon recognized that all those feelings surfaced after a time of removal - a time when I had meagerly attempted to stop a number of unhealthy patterns in my life - a time following a decision to be off the internet for a few days (no facebook, twitter, email, blog, chatting, etc.) - a removal from my routine of those petty distractions that have a knack at becoming soul-bandaids, temporarily allowing me to forget.
And it was after the removal of those distractions that the truth came barreling in with all its force - uprooting and surfacing a deep wanting in me that I had previously managed to avoid.
And it was good for me to feel the pain and the emptiness that came from the silence that followed.
Because sometimes the weight of the darkness is what motivates us to turn our faces towards the light.
And when the false lights, those little flickering lamps of comfort we surround ourselves with, when those lights are put out - the darkness becomes tangible and heavy and scary.
And that is the very moment when we know to cry out for the sun - the time we begin to recognize how deep is our need for its light.
It is then that we can say the name - Jesus - and understand what we are truly asking for.
In our deep darkness, we begin to understand.
And after the need is felt and the name is spoken, the brilliance of the true light comes - the Source of all that is good and true.
The pure light that rushes in with healing and fulfillment and rest.
The joy that follows the coming of the One who is real and profound and unexplainable.
The grace of something bigger than ourselves.
The arrival of God - His response to our call - is the beginning of our loneliness fulfilled.
A loneliness that can be broken only with the sheltering, hovering, gracious presence of our Maker.
With His arrival, we begin to see what was meant for us - this relationship we were created for.
At the call, He comes swiftly, and with power.
Our Maker. Our Bearer.
Love, in purest form.
Friday, September 3, 2010
-- abraham joshua heschel.
And it was the coolest, most amazing experience - one of the best things I have ever been blessed to be a part of.
I stood up in front of the class, and as soon as I said the word Israel, their eyes opened big and wide and I had their undivided attention.
And when I said the name Jesus, they collectively, as a class, "oohed" and "aahed" and "wowed" and sat up in their chairs.
And then, when I started showing pictures, they all clamored around as close as they could and pointed at everything - amazed at the smallest, tiniest details.
And when I asked if they had any questions, their little hands shot up, one by one by one.
And the entire time I was talking, I could feel a certain spirit growing in the room.
And even at the very end, when we all bowed our heads to pray, those kids were so excited to say a few words for their friends in Israel - prayers for peace and family and happiness.
It was absolutely beautiful.
And as I bowed my head and listened to each one of those little children's prayers, I could only think one thought - I could only pray one prayer:
"Rabbi, help my heart to be like theirs."
"Anyone who does not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." -- mark.