Archive | July, 2014

More than Enough

27 Jul

This week I don’t have a compelling Scripture or a coordinating photo.

All I have is the thought that if everyone in the world was to be in the same room with Jesus, we would all see Him a bit differently through our need. Some would see the Mighty Warrior through their desperation. Others would be in the presence of the Prince of Peace because their lives were spinning out of control. Still others in the midst of grief would know Him as the Comforter. And some would simply be captivated by his glorious beauty.

The same God revealed, but seen through individual situations, perspectives, and longings.

In every one, and altogether, He is more than enough.

———-

READY FOR SUNDAY

I will be in that room this weekend– with individuals gathering together with independent needs, but we will be united in task and purpose: to glorify the One who is more than able to care for all of us and all of our distinct needs. He is more than enough for all of that.

Though we will each worship a slightly different facet of who He is, we will be united because He is the unifying reason that we gather.

He is more than enough for each and all of us. And more.

Two Sides

19 Jul

IMG_2965

I like to clean. Or, rather, I like a clean house when I’m done cleaning. Everyday I touch most of the doorknobs in our home several times (more than ever right now since we have a puppy and leave doors closed to keep her out of certain rooms). I don’t look at them or give them a second thought. My brain is engaged in more important task of remembering what I came into the room for in the first place.

But when I clean I do notice doorknobs. They don’t discriminate. Everyone turns them, whether their hands are clean or dirty. When I clean, I see the dirt, and I remember that touching them spreads germs. The rest of the week, I don’t notice the dirty build-up, but when I take the time to look, there’s no denying that a good cleaning is needed.

Several passages in the Bible hit me the same way. Or maybe they don’t hit me. Common passage that we all have memorized disappear in the text, hiding in plain sight.

This week I read through Revelation 2 and 3 – the Letters to the Churches. You probably have Rev 3:20 is addressed memorized: Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. Those of us who attended Sunday School as children remember a teacher holding a picture of Jesus standing at a door and knocking, while she told us how to ask Jesus into our hearts.

But that’s not what this verse means.

Looking at the context, we see that Jesus said this passage to a church, not an individual. Because the letter is written to a church, the implication is that individuals in the Laodicean church had received Christ. So why is Jesus knocking on the church door? If not for salvation, for what?

Because of their unrepentant hearts. The church had become proud, not needing anything. Not even Jesus. He was standing outside their church, knocking to be let back in. They didn’t realize they were poor, blind, and naked. The emperor had no idea he had no clothes. But Jesus did.

The church has the power, the ability– and the prideful audacity– to leave Jesus out in the cold, to adopt an SOP: of self-reliance, doing ministry out of its own human resources without the wealth offered by Jesus.

And so Jesus knocks, giving us the choice: do we invite Him into our church, opening the door with humble repentance, and enjoy sweet fellowship around the table?

Or do we leave Jesus outside?

———-

READY FOR SUNDAY

What if I substitute “worship team” for “church” in the above? Is Jesus inside or outside the door of our worship team? Do we lead out of our own resources? Or is our leadership humble, repentant, and reliant on Him?

The wonderful promise we have in Jesus is that although His resources are costly, He gives them freely:

“Come, everyone who thirsts,
    come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
    and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
    and delight yourselves in rich food.”  Isaiah 55:1-2

 

 

and

12 Jul

ampersand

You are Creator and the Word

The One who spoke and the Speaking

Speaking life out of nothing

Giving chaos meaning

You said, and it was so

Morning and evening

 –

You are the Voice and the Way

The Narrow Road and the Whisper

Whispering which way to go

Hearing cries to deliver

The Way and Only Truth

Small Gate and Life-Giver

 

You are the Cloud and the Fire

Shekinah Glory and the Burning

Burning up soaked wood and stone

Igniting, overturning

Behind and before

Thirsting and soul-yearning

 

You are the First and the Last

The Final End and Beginning

Beginning all things new again

Glory never dimming

The Root and Branch of Jesse

Victorious and winning

 

You are the Lion and the Lamb

Perfect Love and Agonizing

Agonizing wondrous cross

Conquered death by sacrificing

Fully God and Fully Man

The Crucified and Hope-Rising

…and…

Opposites and paradox.

Remember Venn Diagrams from math class? Circles that describes sets – if one circle is “Green Things” and another is “Round Things”, the circles both contain the green lollipops, traffic lights, and round-cut emeralds, overlapping with an intersection of “Green Round Things”.

But what if the circles are “Green Things” and “Blue Things”? Do they overlap, or are they exclusive– independent circles without an intersection? What about “Blue-Green Things” (green and blue mixed to make blue-green). And what about rainbows… every color is part of a rainbow.

Groups that seem to be exclusive, after thoughtful inspection, do share concepts.

Sometimes the set names are so specific the intersection contains a single item.

Often God is described with conflicting concepts. Like Morning and Evening, First and Last, Lion and Lamb; like Crucified and Lord… At first these seem to contradict each other, creating a paradox. But think about these pairs and how they relate to each other. Taken together they complete the larger concept.

How wondrous that conflicting concepts meet in God!

He is the total set. The Both/And. The Ultimate Concept. The All-in-All. The Complete Union.

He is greater than any single concept for several reasons, among them that He created the concepts.

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  Eph 4:4-6

The intersection contains one Item.

And: Christ the Lord.

———-

READY FOR SUNDAY

When I think about all the “ands” that describe God, my soul spontaneously worships Him.

Please leave a comment with other “and” statements that cause you to worship our Lord and Savior!

 

Free

5 Jul

Yesterday 238 years ago, 56 men signed a document that changed everything. The world became a very different place because of their sacrificial act.

Today I am wondering what they were thinking 238 years ago the day after they scratched their signatures on parchment. Did each one spend extra time with wives and children, worried for their safety and lives? Did any take a walk through his estate, knowing it would soon be seized or destroyed?  Did they meet together, grim yet resolved? Did they rejoice that a new direction had begun? Did the gravity of what they had done weigh heavier than the oppression they had experienced as subjects of the British Crown?

Their freedom had been eroded by a despot, but all of the 56 did very well for themselves under King George’s tyranny. Their pledge to the new Republic, one another, and their descendants was total, all-in, sold-out, and no-turning back. The last sentence of their Declaration states: [F]or the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor. It is followed by the signatures of 56 men who had much to lose, and little to gain personally.

Watch the ever-eloquent Paul Harvey tell “The Rest of the Story”.

Can you imagine any of our current politicians acting this way?

Can you imagine followers of Jesus doing the same?

What if we signed away the rights to our future– to our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor? Is liberty more important than security? Before we can answer that, another question must be answered: What is liberty?

As Nelson Mandela was freed from South African prison after 28 years of incarceration, he had a moment to think about the turning point for his life. “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew that if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”

In Galatians 5 Paul describes ultimate liberty – freedom in Christ. Freedom from the law. Freedom from the tyranny of our own self-centeredness.

The Galatians were relying on circumcision to be the saving act for followers of Jesus. Paul, in his harshest letter to believers, wishes they would emasculate themselves (verse 12)! Paul was extreme and caustic because of what is at stake – their salvation and freedom in Christ! Nothing saves except the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. No human act will ever translate us from darkness to the Kingdom of Light. Trusting in anything other than what Jesus did for us is the highest form of slavery because it tricks us into a false hope, keeping us from true freedom. This is the worst form of oppression.

Toward the end of the chapter (5:22-23) Paul shares what true freedom looks like: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Imagine a world in which this is all that exists. Imagining that world is to have a vision of true freedom.  “Against such things there is no law,” there is only total freedom. This was the vision of 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. This was Nelson Mandela’s vision.*

Living under the fruit of the Spirit is not about restriction. The signers of the Declaration of Independence knew they faced a tough journey filled with hardship and struggle, yet they were freer after signing than they had been the moment before. Nelson Mandela could have lashed out against the injustice he and many others suffered under despotic tyranny, but he chose the way of freedom. In both cases the world changed forever for the better. What would have transpired if these men and their families had given in to self-preservation and hate?

What can transpire if followers of Jesus turn away from self and pursue true freedom?

How will we be different? How will the church change? How will our cities, towns, and countries be different?

———-

READY FOR SUNDAY

And how will our Sunday morning worship be different?

———-

*I am not saying that the signers of the Declaration or Nelson Mandela were or were not hoping to establish a religious state, but that the ideals of the Gospel, specifically freedom and peace for all people, was their goal and motivation as they turned away from self-gratification.

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