God Who Tears, Devours and Rips

In Hosea 13 we read the following: “But I am the Lord your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior. It was I who knew you in the wilderness, in the land of drought; but when they had grazed, they became full, they were filled, and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot me. So I am to them like a lion; like a leopard I will lurk beside the way. I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs; I will tear open their breast, and there I will devour them like a lion, as a wild beast would rip them open.”

Hosea was a prophet to Israel, the northern kingdom, just before they were attacked and overcome around 722 B.C. by the Assyrian army. Hosea’s ministry arrived on the tail end of a golden era for Israel (of course). Israel had been thriving: financially prosperity, peace at the borders, gold and silver filled the treasury, life was easy. We see God warn His people multiple times throughout the Bible of the danger of peace and prosperity. We are forgetful and fickle creatures. When life is difficult we lift our heads to pray and sadly when life is easy we become impregnated with idolatry, lusting after mischief, addiction and slothfulness.

Preaching a God  who rips His people open and tears open their breast like a bear robbed of her cubs is not the sort of thing that easily attracts a following, but this is our God. He is judge over all the earth. He blesses the meek and humble but He “strikes the earth with the rod of His mouth…and kills the wicked” (Isaiah 11:4). He chastises us corporately, as seen in the Old Testament exile of His people, and He also reproves and disciplines those whom He loves in order to heal and guide them (Rev 3:19).

CHEAP, LIMP-WRISTED LOVE
The quickest way to earn a man’s approval is to fill him with compliments and withhold from him helpful, hard words of criticism. It is also the best way to kill his soul. Western culture has become limp-wristed. We’ve repeatedly seen leadership cower from telling people what they need to hear in fear of the revolt that might result from it. This is cheap, empty love. It isn’t love. This kind of false love doesn’t know suffering or sacrifice.

It has sadly become a regularity within Bible-believing churches to hand out “Get out of jail, free” cards to smiley, happy families, imbued with greed and self-reliance. In tight religious circles we pretend same-sex attraction doesn’t exist and then anathematize it when it surfaces. An incredibly small group of politically extreme left or right wingers somehow often hamstrings politicians and judges to unjustly arbitrate in their favor in fear of the social media fallout that might otherwise occur. Our love has turned to lukewarmness. We have become limp-wristed. We offer each other comfort and security and say ‘Peace, peace’ when there is no peace. We teach the kind-heartedness of God, when His actual intention is to rip our breast open like a she-bear robbed of her cubs.

THE CHIEF SUFFERER
Those who pass Christians off as unaware fools who have no concept for the reality of things don’t know Jesus, who is the Reality of all things. Can you imagine showing up to your bowling league, or to you family brunch, or maybe even your own birthday party only to realize that nobody recognizes you? What if, going even further with this ludicrous idea, they despise and reject you? This is a summation of Christ’s life on earth. “The true light (Jesus Christ), which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (John 1:9-11). Later in life Jesus formally began His preaching ministry, proclaiming He was the Son of God, sent to save the world and even his own family begged him to stop. They passed him off as a fool.

But the ultimate act of Jesus’ suffering was the cross, where his Father ordained the hands of men to grotesquely murder him. Isaiah 53 says of God the Father that, “it was the will of the Lord to crush him (Jesus.).” But even Jesus was in league with his Father. He gave his life as a ransom, to create for himself a church, a bride for the eternal ages. God loves His people and His love tolerates no rivals. Jesus’ suffering and death is proof of that. Jesus laid his own life down and he took it up again after carrying the weight of hell on behalf of His brothers and sisters, the children of God (John 10:18).

Rip Me Open
Hosea prophesied to Israel, “Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up…Let us press on to know the Lord” (Hosea 6:1, 3). If you are Christ’s, then Christ has been struck down for you, that you might be lifted up with Him, in Him. That being said, be wise and discerning. We serve a holy God, a fierce, wild and unstoppable God. He is not safe, but He is good. If for a time God has chosen to rip you open, then let it be so. He tears in order to heal. He rips in order to bind.

If you are Christ’s, and life is not going the way you had planned, don’t mourn as others do, who have no hope (1 Thess 4:13). You are not entitled to all the things you want in this life because you are not the orchestrator of your life. God is, and He has nothing but the best planned for you. Furthermore, every second of suffering in the here and now for the cause of Christ will be richly rewarded in heaven beyond your wildest dreams. Jesus is our Savior and Lord. His very flesh is our reminder that God rips open that He may heal. Jesus was torn for us that we might be redeemed.

“And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain… (and the heavenly hosts cried out) ‘You were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation…'” (Rev 5). Amen, come Lord Jesus.

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The Suicide of Evil – Good Friday

Confusion shrouds Good Friday in the church of Christ and I’m not an exception to this problem. Many different traditions and denominations observe it in many different ways. Some light candles, some wear black. Some sit quietly in dark sanctuaries and some put on laser light shows and sing in clouds of dense artificial fog. I want to help us with the confusion. The point of Good Friday isn’t the tradition or the manner in which we celebrate. The point of it is Jesus. There are layers and layers of Truth here, but let’s keep it simple. We celebrate the grace of God in the death of Jesus Christ.

John Piper teaches that Good Friday is the anniversary of the most spectacular sin ever committed. Sinful man killed Jesus. Listen to Piper’s words:

The apex of the glory of Christ is the glory of his grace – treating people infinitely better than they deserve – giving himself for the everlasting joy of the worst of sinners who will have him as their highest treasure. And the apex of this grace is the murder of [Jesus]. The death of Jesus Christ was murder. It was the most spectacular sin ever committed. At the all-important pivot of human history, the worst sin ever committed served to show the greatest glory of Christ and obtain the sin-conquering gift of God’s grace. God did not just overcome evil at the cross. He made evil serve the overcoming of evil. He made evil commit suicide in doing its worst evil…In the death of Christ, the powers of darkness did their best to destroy the glory of the Son of God. This is the apex of evil. But instead they found themselves quoting the script of ancient prophecy and acting the part assigned by God. Precisely in putting Christ to death, they put his glory on display – the very glory that they aimed to destroy. The apex of evil achieved the apex of the glory of Christ. The glory of grace” (Spectacular Sins, p. 11-12).

Let’s unpack that. Evil men, who ironically were the religious rulers of Israel, set their hearts on murdering Jesus Christ because His ministry was overshadowing theirs. Their fame and power was being challenged and they were outraged. They hamstrung the Romans into crucifying Him, and in so doing they effectively unknowingly fulfilled Isaiah 53 and many other prophecies penned hundreds of years before their time. Their murder of God’s Son, Jesus, was actually planned by God. Even Jesus was in on the plan. He said, “I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father” (John 10:17-18).

Jesus lived a perfect life and He died a gruesome death for us. Scripture teaches us that God laid upon Jesus the wrath we deserve for our sin (Isaiah 53:5). Just as prophesied, Jesus overcame death on the third day. He endured the hell we deserve and freed us from eternal death. There’s no way we can fully wrap our minds around this. Praise God for His grace.

Here’s my warning – God is not interested or glorified in our feigned sorrowful observance of bloody, dead Jesus.
Good Friday isn’t about you; it’s not about how you celebrate Good Friday. Good Friday is about Jesus, and how God is completely sovereign over all things, even your sins. You can’t escape the grace of God. Even your most major screwups and sins God uses ultimately for your good and His glory. So celebrate Jesus in your heart. Pray to Him, thanking Him for the apex of His love – His grace. Commune with Him and carry a heart heavy with thanksgiving that God’s sovereign love outweighs your faults and sins. That’s how you observe Good Friday.

I urge you to sauté your heart in the following Scripture as you go about your business tonight and tomorrow. “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed. All We like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:4-6). 

In closing, whether you find yourself in your living room, in a dark sanctuary, or surrounded by dense fog at a laser light show, don’t let your thinking be shrouded by confusion and fakery. Good Friday is Good is because Jesus died for you.

 

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Be The Church!

Please allow me to make my intentions conspicuous: this post is for Christians. Moving on then.

Sometimes (usually…no, I take that back, always) going back to the inception of a thing helps you understand and appreciate it in the present. I’ll give you an example: America. Would you say that confusion, irritation and misunderstanding are #trending when it comes to the future of America’s health and prosperity? Let me help you, the answer is yes. America’s inception was a unified people fighting for a common goal to ascertain freedom for future generations. They were willing to sacrifice. They worked hard. They lived off the land. There was no system to leach from…apart from your neighbor living four miles down the dirt road back in the boondocks. And if you trespassed his property, he’d probably shoot you with his musket, mistaking you for a redcoat. We all could probably use some more elbow grease and a remembrance of our beginnings. But ‘Merica is not my main point. Church is.

Let me go there.

If you go to a building that you call the church and see [and possibly even interact with] a people that you only see once a week (on Sunday), then something wrong is happening. Let me avoid the passive voice—you’re doing something wrong.

Before I finish #goingthere let me soften the loving, blunt edge of my words with some context, Scripture and a (metaphorical) soft pillow. The inception of the church is Jesus. He started the whole thing. I’m not talking about the church where pastors dance on money, lie to you about how frequently Fridays happen, and hold signs that say “God hates fags.” I’m talking about the church that stands on the Gospel of Jesus Christ and nothing else. Let’s go to the beginnings of the church so we can understand it best now.

The church started in first century Palestine. Jesus’ core team was a mixed bag of fishermen, tax collectors, benevolent women, beggars, and some others—as you can tell, a real solid group. He walked with them, lived with them, taught them the Truth and then taught them how to share that Truth with the world. Jesus unified a lost people. The numbers of His disciples frequently fluctuated. When He would feed people bread that He made appear out of nowhere, thousands upon thousands would come, hear, eat, and take on the yoke of disciple…and then when He said things like “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you (John 6:53),” they pretty much all left except for the original twelve. Jesus wasn’t creating a loosely bound bunch of people who all looked like each other; He was forging together a family whose central joy and purpose was the glory of the Creator of life: God, Son & Spirit.

Nowadays there are many different ways to prepare and launch a church plant, but Jesus’ way wasn’t like ours (thankfully). Jesus knew what it would take to launch the church—His death and resurrection. Just before His death, Jesus made some incredible promises to His people. He also gave them specific instructions, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:46-49).

When Jesus ascended to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to us to empower us and lead us in bringing life to the world through the person of Jesus Christ. The early church lived together, broke bread together, took care of each other, and shared the Gospel together every day of the week (Acts 2:42-47). This is our model; this is who we are called to be.

Christians understand from God’s Word that our home is the heaven of God’s presence (Rev 22). We also know that we are merely sojourners passing through this land. God has freed us from our sin. And now we celebrate the goodness of the Gospel together. We encourage each other (Romans 1:12), we provide for each other (2 Cor 8:13-15), we go on mission together (Matt 28:18-20); we do life together. It has to work that way. It doesn’t work any other way.

If you are a Christian, then you are part of the church. It is your calling and blessing to bring life to dead places by bringing the Gospel with you wherever you go. Your brothers and sisters have been given to you for your strengthening. Your daily faith and repentance is beautifully intertwined with theirs. Time spent with the church is time that changes the world.

This time can’t only happen on Sunday. No way.

If you aren’t doing life with the church like you’re actually family then step it up. If you truly are a Christian, and if you have read God’s Word, and received the Holy Spirit, then be a part of what God is doing in the world and BE THE CHURCH. If week after week, year after year, you’ve meandering around a “church building” on Sunday morning, putting up with people you don’t much care for because you want to salve your guilty conscience and check “going to church” off the list, then you might as well spend your time elsewhere.

Jesus is not about mediocrity. The church should not be mediocre people doing mediocre things, but unfortunately it all too often is. You are not mediocre; you are beautifully forgiven and redeemed. You are called to be a life-giving member of God’s church. The church is guilty sinners made innocent through Jesus’ blood doing life-giving things in the world for the glory of God. Jesus has a great plan for your life, it’s called the church. Join me in bringing redemption to a broken world through the power of Jesus Christ, Sunday through Saturday.

I challenge you, saved people of God, to have authentic Christian joy by doing life the way it was designed: together, in Gospel community.

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Jesus Loves Pathetic People – Good Friday

Dear human, sinful human, think about Jesus and get sad,
Dear human, trite human, go to Good Friday service and frown.
Dear human, tired human, stay awake a little longer until ‘amen,’
Dear human, feigning human, worship a dead, bloodied Jesus. The end.  

Good Friday, the day when Christians are invited to get really sad. Is it any different from the types of Bible studies which are filled with super Bible-studyish questions that people hide behind? You’ve been there, right? Chatting about Abraham’s promised son, or the 400 years of prophetic silence, or David’s crazy ascension to the throne, or perhaps even Jesus’ last supper with His friends…and all the while your personal life is deteriorating. You’re drowning in pornography, or fighting with your spouse, or stuck in an ocean of numbness…just sitting there in a Bible study, talking about David. You’re a liar.

Well I’m a recovering people-pleasing, limp-wristed liar. So track with me. I need to speak some hard words (to myself & you) because I want us to enjoy Good Friday like real humans, saved humans. Let me remind you of what Good Friday is, this day historically commemorates Jesus’ suffering, death by crucifixion and burial. It is an historically ominous day in the life of the church.

Now let me get personal with you. I had some terrible nightmares last night. I woke up in a terrible mood. My gut was twisted up in knots. I dreamt that Emilee and I were at an all-inclusive resort. I was late to dinner because I got lost. In fact, I totally missed dinner. She was just leaving the restaurant as I finally arrived. She was devastated, but she didn’t realize it was an honest accident. She then told me she was going dancing with some other guy friends, and I wasn’t invited. I was violently angry, then I woke up. I woke up next to my beautiful wife on her day off. She was so cute, twisted up in the covers, and I was fighting the urge to be very mad at her; very, very mad.

I am not kidding. I woke up at 7 a.m., it took me about thirty minutes to recover from the nightmare that my twisted sin nature lodged into my head. So that is how my Good Friday started. Yippee! And that’s my first point for you:

1. Good Friday begins when you wake up. 

It is just like any other day. You start walking with Jesus when you exit the unconscious state, yawning really big and wiping the eye boogers away. But most of us are symptomatic of not understanding the Gospel clearly. On most Sundays we don’t begin thinking about Jesus until we arrive to corporate worship. Most of us don’t start trying to consider Jesus’ death until we’ve arrived to the 6:30p Good Friday service. Perhaps one minute you’re watching How I Met Your Mother (I hate that show so much), and the next you’re loading up in the car to go observe Good Friday. We are silly, fake hypocrites. We all are. If we could even begin to see the cavernous depths that our atrocious selfishness has carved in the inner man, we’d be devastated and shattered. But listen to me right now, Jesus is waiting at the bottom of the cavern of your depravity. That is where your walk with Him begins every morning. You wake up with your messy hair and your donkey breath. Your ankles hurt, your joints crack, your stomach aches, and you start walking with Jesus. 

2. The point of Good Friday is to connect your real-life situation to Jesus’.

“And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do'” (lk 23:34). Can you actually believe He said that to the very scoffers who were beating Him and preparing to murder Him!? Seriously, just think with me for a second here. Try to remember the last time you were angered, saddened, disillusioned and selfishly acting like a little crybaby. What was it over? Did your son break your iPhone? Did you not go to dinner where you wanted to? Did your spouse or friend say something careless? Did an uncareful driver cut you off? What was it? I’m assuming you weren’t being tortured by evil people who had every intention of brutally murdering you. Did you have the Gospel wherewithal to ask the Father to forgive them? Probably not, you probably whined like a 3 year old, right? And if you didn’t on the outside, you probably were on the inside.

This is the place Good Friday begins. Yes, Jesus is 100% God, but He is also 100% human. He did and does things we could never, ever do. Our affections for Jesus on Good Friday start by us considering our limitations, our weaknesses, our often self-imposed suffering. We connect those to Jesus, and we say ‘Wow! It is almost impossible for me to think that Jesus was never sinfully angry and furthermore, loves me and died for me.’ Jesus knew His life was ending. He knew the most tremendous suffering was nearing, and yet He never threw a hissy fit. He bowed before the sovereign will of God, and His flesh could barely contain the cosmic thrashings and sufferings of His soul within, which was beginning to absorb the fullness of God’s wrath. Blood started seeping out of his body. Jesus never sinned. Jesus loved you then. He was mocked. The Creator of all was spit upon by thieves and greedy liars, the leaders of Israel, and He loved them. Jesus saw the mallets and the nails that would pierce His skin and he loved the men who held them. He pleaded with God to forgive His persecutors, His executors.

How are we supposed to relate to this man!? We can’t seem to stop acting like pathetic children, over the most pathetic situations. We’re pathetic. But guess what dear Christian, Jesus loves pathetic people. He has dinner with crybabies. He gives His time and attention to whiners and to self-centered losers, like me…and you. He gives His time to you now. 

3. Good Friday is good because Jesus loves bad people. 

Jesus told us that there would be many who call Jesus ‘Lord,’ and yet who will be condemned to an eternity of hell (Mt 7:21-23). Saying the right things doesn’t save you. Jesus told us “the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven” is the one who is saved. So what is His will? Recognize you are an unrighteous sinner (Mt 9:13). Treasure Jesus more than you treasure your own transient comfort (Mt 10:37-39). Treasure Jesus more than you treasure your money by using it to serve and love the lost and dying (Isaiah 58:4-12). Rejoice in the Day when Christ shall rescue you from this world, look forward to that day, hasten it (2 Peter 3:11-13).

Dear Christian, saved Christian, think about Jesus and be glad,
Dear Christian, rescued Christian, observe Good Friday with celebration.
Dear Christian, enduring Christian, keep fighting a little longer, amen!
Dear Christian, repentant Christian, worship the gracious, living, glorious Jesus.
The end. 

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A Moment Worth Sharing…And Remembering – for my brothers, Ryan and Kyle

He felt like he was cheating, like he found a loophole that under ordinary circumstances must always remain closed. “How large were those evergreens when we carouselled around them, they must’ve been much smaller back then,” he thought.  Like a child staring into whatever might cause a wonder beyond the ability of words to describe, he stared at the little clump of trees in the corner of Sunset Park. The memories were faint for sure, but boy were they strong!

The clump in his throat gave the moment meaning. His eyes went out of focus as his memory and imagination began dashing with clarity and purpose. “Yeah, it must have been right here where we chased each other and played. Was it tag? Hmmm. Yeah, Kyle was practicing soccer. I remember hating being forced to sit out in the sun so Kyle could practice soccer.” The voice in his mind was ruminating on the insignificant but beautiful memory. Apparently the deposit of obediently attending his little brother’s soccer practices held a deeper meaning and were destined to reap a greater harvest and garner more interest than he thought possible. The moment was now.

All he could see in his mind’s eye was his older brother. His movements were swift, his hair, curly, and his face, ruddy. This was back before life got complicated. This scrawny middle child enjoyed chasing big brother for no greater reason than that Ryan began running for no other apparent reason than to be chased. He had gained all of his affection and attention, and for the moment it was deeply enjoyable. For some reason his self-awareness was lacking in the memory. Perhaps a healthy admiration for older brother had something to do with it. He was able to reverse the affects of age in his mind to renew the childlike demeanor of his hero and older brother, before the receding hairline turned him into a wise sage and his thin-rimmed glasses rewarded him with an unfair first impression of accomplished and privy to the kinds of knowledge you wish you had.

Part of him kind of wanted to step out of his car and take a step up onto the grass and even perhaps walk through the trees, so he did. As he stepped onto the matted, yellowed Bermuda grass, he thought to himself, “If this were a fanciful movie, ghost-like children would be prancing around me, innocently laughing, and sharing a moment more meaningful than either of them could imagine. And I would wish I could set them down and affirm them, and say the kinds of things they needed to hear to set them on the exact path they were about to live. I would also meander over to my little brother, Kyle. I would interrupt his soccer practice and tell him I’m proud of him, that I love him, and that if he’ll just hold on a few more years, I’ll stop being a bully because Ryan will start dating Ashley, and then I’ll start spending time with little brother.”

By this point, the thermometer on his crappy Saturn was probably reaching the red line, so in order to keep his vehicle from overheating in the June sun he left the park, wiped a tear from his eye, and enjoyed the sense of being part of something larger than himself. With each step away from the epicenter of the memory, the meaningfulness of the moment swirled around him like a dense fog, chasing behind him as he cut through the thick recollection. In the back of his mind he thought to himself, “I’ll probably write a blog post about this someday.”

The End.

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Day 5 – The Labor, Art & Means of Treasuring Scripture to Rejoice in God: A 30 Day Conversation to Sober the Impotent Mind to Spiritual Reality

DAY 5 – Getting It All Figured Out

Genesis 13:4

“…and there Abram called upon the name of [Yahweh] the LORD.” (ESV)

Luke 10:38-42

“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.’”

Proverbs 28:19

“Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty.”

:::: ::::

Go ahead and look back at the title. Now in response let me say this: quit your attempt at it. The whole idea is flawed. You were not created to figure things out. You were created for so much more. So, so much more.

Yes there is a common thread in each of the contextual significances of the Scriptures presented for today’s reading. Two of the major themes are purpose and significance.

Let’s be honest with ourselves now. We tend to struggle with two major issues in life once we become adults: Purpose and significance. 1We want to find our purpose in having a great job and making good money. 2We also want to feel significant in someone else’s eyes right? We want to fall in love with the right person. It is stressful. We want to be able to move out of the apartment or out of our parent’s basement and have our own home where we can paint our own walls and entertain. And it would be really nice to have you soul mate in that house with you. Of course we deal with acceptance issues, time management, controlling our emotions amongst many other things, but our minds so often go to our career(s) and our [future] lover(s), right?

The “American Dream” is now firing on all cylinders, we’re speaking the American language. Now let’s see if we can promptly shut it up and throw it in a deep, dark cave filled with hungry lions.

I find Genesis 13:4 fascinating, especially when I read it in the context of the whole passage, and the chapters before and after it. This is what happens, God calls Abram to leave his home to an undetermined location. All that God tells him is this, “[leave home and go] to the land that I will show you” (Gen 13:1). Abram obeys. Wow. We could pretty much afford stop here and think about that for a few days or a year or so, right? LEAVE HOME!? To an undetermined location!? Because some voice in the sky said to!? Welp, moving on then, he goes with his wife, but (kind of disobediently) he brought his kid nephew with him, and they pass through Canaan (the land God will promise and give to the Israelites one day). He builds an altar there in the middle-of-nowhere country, and “called upon the name of the Lord.” Then they head towards Egypt, into a draught. Abram lies about his wife being his sister to save his own skin because he is afraid Pharaoh will kill him for his wife, his own wife nearly has sex with another man, Abram is an idiot, he is a big idiot. Pharaoh says, ‘Gee Abram, thanks for you sister, I was really wanting a new sex toy for my harem, have a ton of cattle and other stuff too.’  Now Abram is filthy stinkin’ rich. [Because Abram is an idiot] God strikes Pharaoh’s land and house with great plagues for adultery. Pharaoh figures out what happened, kicks them out, and they journey back into Canaan, and once again, Abram “called upon the name of the Lord.”

Strange story, huh? Yeah, I think so too. But what is there to learn? Well let me ask you this, when was the last time you called upon the name of the Lord…for no apparent reason. No one, no one at all on the whole face of the earth even knew the Lord because everyone, generation after generation, refused to remember or tell the stories of the past leading all the way back to the beginning, in the garden. We rejected God. And something really controversial and biblical called election happened. God called (elected) a purposeless little man named Abram. Abram followed this unknown God (who happened to be God of the universe). Sure Abram was an idiot. But Abram apparently had a habit of calling upon the Lord. Wouldn’t you if you were lost in the desert?

Well you say yes now, but let me ask you this in your current lostness, when was the last time you just simply called upon the name of God just because you wanted Him? When was the last time you called out for Jesus Christ for a greater reason than that you want more money or a lover? When was the last time you called out at all. Have you ever?

So you’re miserable because you don’t make 50k and you’re even more miserable because you don’t have a soul mate, right? Or at least one or the other is happening…or perhaps you have smokin’ hot spouse, you make 250k and you hate your life. And you’re just trying to figure things out, because you want to figure out how to get more comfy in your little life, right? Just gotta get all your ducks in a row so you can get what’s yours, get what you deserve and finally arrive. What does that even mean? Arrive?

Mary from Luke 10 has much to teach you.

Martha was anxious about much. She wanted the messy house to be cleaned, she wanted the chores to be done. After all, the High King of heaven and earth was her honored guest and her house smelled like day-old lamb goulash and flat bread. Kind of embarrassing, right? It didn’t bother Jesus. Want to know why? Because of Mary.

Jesus was with joy looking down upon this treasured and beautiful-hearted friend of His, whom He made by the Word of His power by the way. Mary, Martha’s sister just wanted to be with Jesus. She was done with figuring it all out. She knew Jesus had her figured out, and He loved her, accepted her. She found joy in knowing Him. She realized that was her calling…Martha, the older, cleaner, more accomplished, more disciplined one was lost in her flawed attempt to become found. Mary was found by Jesus and she was lost in Him, in a beautiful, adventurous, vulnerable, healing, restoring sort of way.

Sure, there is work to be done. Proverbs 28 is clear. If you want to eat bread you better make some. And if you want to afford the mortgage you better let hard labor become a close friend. She is a great friend to have. But life is more than bread, or as the rappers like to say, paypa (paper), spendin’ cheese, and other stuff like that.

In closing, remember this, pretty soon here your rotting corpse will be six feet under. And all the cheese you spent won’t matter a bit. All those moments you worried about getting it all figured out won’t matter. You know what will? All those little (huge) moments you spent calling out to God, when you’re lost in the middle of a great big desert (hopefully a metaphorical one). Dear child, God doesn’t want you on your feet right now, He wants you at His feet, where you are healed and restored. Stop worrying about money and love. Stop worrying. God made the sun with a hiccup…He can take care of you. Just look at Miley, money and fame don’t buy a thing worth having. In the spirit of Abram, call out to God. You won’t regret it.

If you do, you just might find out the great secret. You weren’t created to figure stuff out, you were created to know Jesus and enjoy Him forever. Rest easy in the One who has it all figured out for you. Whether you know it or not, you were made to know Him, I pray you find this out before it’s too late. Call out to Him, and you’ll see what I mean. John 17:3 is worth the read. Trust me.

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Day 4 – The Labor, Art & Means of Treasuring Scripture to Rejoice in God: A 30 Day Conversation to Sober the Impotent Mind to Spiritual Reality

DAY 4 – The Blind Leading the Desperate

Psalm 9:1a

“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart…” (ESV)

Jeremiah 17:9

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

Psalm 9:10

“And those who know Your name put their trust in You, for You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.”

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Take another look at Psalm 9:1a. For that matter, open your Bible or get online and find Psalm 9:1b. Honestly, when was the last time you really believe that you did anything with your whole heart, all of your passions roused, and the fullness of your intentionality invoked? When was the last time you recounted all the wonderful deeds of the Lord? Because of the sinward bent of the heart and flesh it might be quite a trying task to remember the last time this happened for you in a holy, lasting, right way. Our passions are roused daily in wrongful, lustful, hateful ways…but in good ways, our passions are probably rarely fully roused. Why? Do not be afraid, dear child, to look into the darkness, into the coals we so often carry against our chest (Proverbs 6:27). We mustn’t be ignorant of the evils that prowl about us and within us. Know, though, that it is a wearying task to do so.

It is an undoubted truth to our Master’s maturing children that we carry a dark and dangerous evil within the flesh, the very same poisoned nature recorded in the ancient texts of Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 regarding the devil himself, the Day Star, the son of Dawn, who dwelt in the garden of God. He was the “signet of perfection,” he was “full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.” He walked “amidst the stones of fire on the holy mountain of God.” The Lord tells Lucifer, “Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you. By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profaned your sanctuaries; so I brought fire out from your midst; it consumed you, and I turned you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all who saw you…you have come to a dreadful end…” (Ezekiel 28:17-19).

The blind love using a certain phrase which the Scriptures (in certain contexts) forbids, because God knows in His wisdom our self-destructive sin nature. This phrase we love using is “follow your heart.” The blind sing it loudly and the desperate drink it up like a drunk straining for the last drop of liquor. The heart is set on evil (Jeremiah 17:9). The devil became the son of hell when he became pridefully aware of his perfect beauty…he followed his heart. His heart was lit by the fires of hell, it told him he deserved more, it told him he should make his dwelling in the place of the Most High.

The easy answer is rarely the right answer. Good shortcuts don’t exist. Giving thanks to the Lord with your whole heart is something you are incapable of…only God can assist you in this. Recounting all the wonderful deeds of the Lord you can remember is not the play of children. It is the task of the determined, broken, humble, contrite child of God. Learn from Isaiah and Ezekiel. They were given exceedingly great visions of the origin of Satan’s blackened heart, a burden much heavier than I could carry. They penned for us the final destination of the heart-followers. It is not a cheery place.

Don’t be the desperate one who sips up the anemic advice of the blind…do the hard work of praising the Lord with your whole heart today. It always, always, always starts with the Holy Scriptures, which lead to prayer and meditation, which lead to a holy resolve to do what is right in the sight of God. Dear Christian, even if at times you do not know what you are doing, the Lord does. His eye is ever present, His hand ever upholds you. He knows you are trying to seek Him…and believe it or not, it is Him who has caused your seeking. You are the infant learning to walk, His hands are the Hands guiding you. Walk with sobriety, cheerfulness and confidence in your heavenly dad. He loves you and He does not forsake those who seek Him.

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