Monthly Archives: November 2014

Thanksgiving Thoughts _________________________

web-thanksgiving-parade

Enjoy your day today. It’s what God wants.

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. Galatians 6:14

Today I decided to make another contribution to the ‘daily’ journal I started over four years ago. Just to give you some perspective, even if I started this journal exactly four years ago I should have 1460 pages. Today is page 45 … But it is OK, because it’s more about the content than the mere exercise itself.

Today I read from Oswald Chambers’ book, My Utmost for His Highest. Today’s title was The Consecration of Spiritual Energy. The verse was from Galatians 6 and I know the importance of context when reading Scripture so I read Galatians 6:11-18. In this passage, Paul is writing to Gentiles who are now Christians. Because the roots of the early church began in Judaism, there was much debate regarding circumcision. In the old covenant with Abraham, God instructed that all men who are in Abraham’s family from that point on were to be circumcised as a mark of identity in God’s family. This separated them from all other men and reminded them that they were set apart. In the first century, as many men came to faith in Jesus Christ, the Messiah, they would be circumcised to identify with the larger group. Paul here is explaining that physical circumcision is not necessary. Paul is saying that the people who are pushing for circumcision are simply doing so to boast in the number of converts being created. This to me is like conferences that share how many ‘decisions for Christ’ were made, but do no real follow up. Being a Christian is not about ‘praying the prayer’ or saying a magic phrase and that’s it. It is a change of heart and mindset. It is a relationship and not simply a choice in religion.

Many people who become Christians think that they need to throw away their TV and dump their bottles of alcohol in the sink and dust off their gray suit and part their hair on the side. This is not to say that there are not people who should do some of that, this is not what Jesus wants from us. In the Gospel of John, Jesus prays what is called the High Priestly Prayer. In this prayer, He is praying for His disciples and he prays, “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world …” Jesus wants us to live in the world and among those in the world, but not to be ‘of’ the world.

Dolphins may live in the ocean, under the water, but they need air to live. They need to come up for air. As Christians, we are citizens of heaven but we live in the world. We need to ‘come up for air’ because our life source is from God. Jesus was ‘so much in the ordinary world,’ Chambers writes, ‘that the religious people of his day called him a glutton and wine-bibber.’ Jesus was relatable and with those who needed him most, but he was not ‘of’ the world.

I read a fictitious story about a kid and a WWJD bracelet. For those of you who slept through the mid to late 90’s, WWJD stands for ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ I wore one of these as did millions of other Christian kids. This was to remind us to think before we acted. Well this story illustrates how off much of our thinking around this idea was. I read this in the Huffington Post:

Once upon a time, a mother made her son a wristband. On it was written: WWJD? This, of course stood for: “What Would Jesus Do?” She instructed her son to look at the wristband before making decisions on how to live his Christian life.

A week later she was shocked to see that her son had become friends with prostitutes, was hanging out with ‘sinners’ — even buying people who were already drunk yet another round of beers!

Worse still, he had walked into their church the previous Sunday and tore down the book store, overturned the tables and threw the cash register through the window, he then made a whip and chased the pastor out of the building, declaring he was turning God’s house into a den of thieves.

Most shocking was what happened when his mother went to picket the local abortion clinic. To her embarrassment, her son was also there, but he was standing with the women who just had an abortion, and yelled at the protesters: “You who are without sin, throw the first stone!”

The mother was very distressed, but fortunately she found a solution to this terrible problem. She made another wristband, this time it read: WWAPD? This, she explained to her son, stood for: “What Would A Pharisee Do?” She took the old WWJD? wristband and burned it.

Since her son has been wearing the new wristband, looking at it to help him make his decisions, he has become a dedicated tither, a public prayer warrior, an active condemner of ‘sinners,’ a passionate defender of the Old Covenant law, and has a great reputation as a godly young man amongst other religious people.

Needless to say, the mother is very happy now. She only wishes Jesus would take notice and follow her son’s good example.

This really got me thinking and if we really want to be like Christ, we need to be in the world but not of the world. Today is Thanksgiving and I am thankful that my Savior is not some weirdo who requires that I be hermetically sealed and kept in a bubble. He wants me to be like Him and be with people. Jesus came for the sick and not for the well. We need to be fishers of men and not keepers of the aquarium. We need to be a hospital and not a courtroom. John 3:16-17: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

I am thankful that it is not about what I do, but about what He did.

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My Buddy ____________________________________

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. Galatians 6:7

Timothy Treadwell loved bears. Bears were his life. He wanted to protect them and dispel what he saw as misconceptions regarding these majestic creatures. Treadwell spent thirteen summers living with Grizzly Bears in Alaska. There were documentaries and articles about Timothy and his cause. In October of 2003, after so much time spent with and among Grizzlies, Timothy and his girlfriend were mauled to death by the same bears Timothy loved. Timothy thought he knew these animals. He thought that he was accepted as one of them. Technically, he was right. You see, Grizzly Bears will often attack weaker bears in the pack. At the time of Treadwell’s death, it was during the fall when bears are trying to store as much fat as possible and that year, food was scarce. This lack of food meant the bears were also more aggressive. Timothy got too comfortable and it cost him his life.

There is an expression that goes, “He can’t see the forest for the trees.” What this means is that sometimes, we get too close to something to recognize what it is or the details of what it is. Keep Timothy Treadwell and this expression in mind as we look into Scripture to find someone else who got too comfortable and missed the gravity of the situation.

2 Samuel 6:7 is one of the more difficult Bible passages to understand. Samuel records the event when the Ark of the Covenant was being brought back to Jerusalem and what happened on the way. King David and 30,000 of his chosen men went get the Ark from the home of Abinadab (where it had been for the last twenty years) and bring it to the capitol, Jerusalem.

Poor Uzzah

For a little background, the Ark of the Covenant was THE national treasure of Israel. It contained the Ten Commandments, Aaron’s Staff, and was where the physical presence of YHWH, or Jehovah, or God Himself sat. The lid was sold gold and two cherubim were molded on top and this was called the mercy seat. This was where the presence of God lived. This treasure was captured by the Israel’s enemy, the Philistines and they ended up giving it back. The details of that event are for a whole other time. The Ark spent twenty years at the home of Abinadab. Twenty years. For twenty years, the presence of God lived at Abinadab’s house.

In the book of Exodus, the rules for transporting the Ark can be found. The Ark was to be carried on the shoulders of Levites using the poles that were made for the Ark. Abinadab, as well as his sons, Uzzah and Ahio, were Levites. They knew the rules for transporting the Ark yet they chose to build a new Ox cart and transport the Ark that way. David did not need to bring all those men with him and the Ark should never have been placed on a cart. As they made their way to Jerusalem, Uzzah put his hand out to steady the Ark because the oxen stumbled. As Uzzah’s hand touched the Ark, God struck him dead. … the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God.

What was that all about? Why did God kill Uzzah? Uzzah was a Levite; he was in the priestly order. The Levites were charged with the spiritual well-being of the people of Israel. They were keepers and interpreters of the Law of Moses. I guess having the presence of God living in your dining room for twenty years desensitizes you. Uzzah was a little too comfortable and forgot how powerful God’s Word was.

I grew up in a Christian family and I used to feel like Uzzah. God was such a fixture of our family that I got real comfortable with Him. I believe I was too comfortable. I lost sight of who Almighty God was. In the Kevin Smith film, Dogma, the Catholic Church was trying to draw new followers. They created ‘Buddy Christ.’ This image has been used and espoused by retailers and groups ever since as a wink to religion. While Jesus is our friend and brother, he is also our savior and Lord. Too many Christians and non-christians view Jesus as simply ‘Buddy Christ.’

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Yes, God loves you; he even likes you! He sent His Son, Jesus to die for you. But do not be deceived, the book of Revelation tells us, “He [Jesus] is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.…” I do not write this to scare you. Let me be clear, God wishes that none face this. The Apostle Peter writes, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

Let us not ignore the power and might of God. Let us not take for granted the reverence He deserves. Uzzah got to comfortable and neglected to remember that God is perfect and Holy and needs to be revered. Christ is our covering and thank God for that. I am sure that I would have stepped out and fallen dead long ago. We get to enjoy this scandal called grace. All we need to do is recognize that Jesus paid it all and all to him we owe. Sin has left a crimson stain that He has washed to be white as snow.