Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Teach Me Thy Ways...

Psalms 86:11 “Teach me Thy ways, oh Lord, and I will walk in Thy Truth; unite my heart to fear Thy name.”

There is so much in that single verse. So many things go through my mind. So many things crowd my thoughts. What should I say? What would do the Word justice? What is worth saying?
“Teach me Thy ways, oh Lord…” Jesus told his disciples to “…teach all the nations…teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have taught you.” Matt 28:19, 20 The word observe means, according to Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary “to conform one’s actions or practice to; comply with.” Jesus taught us how to Love. He was Love. He is Love. He always will be Love.

There are so many things that I could talk about on that single verse and I’m having problems comprising my thoughts into one coherent theme. So many scripture verses go through my head. So many parables of Jesus are there for our learning.
We are told to “read the Bible.” It seems like such a daunting task. I once heard a quote that went like, “Many things in the Bible, I don’t understand. Many things in the Bible, I only think I understand. But there are many things in the Bible I cannot misunderstand.”
I was once told by someone that they didn’t need to read the Bible because their priest would tell them what they needed to know. We, as a people, are lazy. We close ourselves off to the awesome wonder of who God is, by not seeking the Lord through prayer nor through His Word. John chapter one declares that “The Word was with God and the Word was God…and the Word became flesh.”

We are given a great and wonderful privilege of knowing God intimately. Many have tried to cast doubt on God’s Word. Many religious people cast doubt on God’s Word. Many have twisted the Word to say what it does not say. Context, context, context. We must be “…rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15.

There are so many supplemental sources for study to help us along, but our main text should first and foremost always be the Bible – the Word of God. Sure, there will always be things in the Bible we won’t understand. Sure there will be points when you say to yourself, as I have said, “What is the point of this or that verse?” But I’ve also taken the attitude that, “Okay God, I don’t understand that right now, but there is still a whole lot that I do understand. Please guide me along as I get to know you more intimately through your Word.”

Consider Job. Lost his money, his family, his health failing. All he wanted was an answer from God for his troubles. Instead he gets criticized by his ‘comforters.’ When God does come on the scene all he gets from God is questions. Does Job get mad? No. Job was given the privilege of being in intimate contact with the one true God, and instead of puffing himself up, he humbled himself before God. He put his faith in God, not his situation. His end was greater than what he had before.

Perhaps you don’t get an answer for your troubles. Perhaps you won’t get an answer. Perhaps the people you are consulting, like Job’s comforters, have all the seemingly correct religious answers, but are you seeking God Himself? Have you gone to His Word? Perhaps you don’t find the answer you are looking for, but are you looking for the Truth? Are you developing an intimate relationship with the One who created you? Have you developed a peace that passes all understanding based on your faith in the One who gave His life that you might have life?
My finite knowledge can not grasp the depths of the Infinite. I can’t understand the depths and breadths and heights of the God we serve. I cannot understand why everything happens. But, you want to know something? I don’t need to know. We are told that “the fear of the Lord, is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7.

My simple prayer is “Teach me Thy ways, oh Lord, and I will walk in Thy Truth; unite my heart to fear Thy name.” That should be everyone’s simple prayer.
Read Proverbs 2:1-5 for a final thought on the subject.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Thoughts on Love

I’ve written many things in the past, from poetry, to stories, to letters, and various other sundry items. I’ve dwelt upon the topic of love and life. I’ve plunged to the depths of loneliness and despair. I’ve have been depressed and somber. I’ve wished and hungered for the ever elusive “in love.” I’ve longed for “moments.” I’ve soared the heights of being what I thought was “in love,” only to crashed down to the land of reality.

To be “in love,” what is that? I say these things mostly for myself. I am rambling in my thoughts for you to see my mind. You may be bored. You may find this trifling. What is it to be “in love?” Is it that rush of emotions, the exhilaration of a touch? An Ella Fitzgerald once asked the musical question, “Are the stars out tonight? I don’t know if it’s cloudy or bright. ‘Cause I only have eyes for you dear.” Is that what it means to be “in love?” That loss of awareness of anything else except the person desired?

Can one be “in love” for a lifetime or is it only just fleeting moments of passion or desire that we experience? Can it be classified as being ‘love’ or should it be termed ‘lust?’

The 77’s once sang, “I feel like I have to feel something good all of the time. With most of my life I cannot deal but a good feeling I can feel even though it may not be real. And if a person, place, or thing can deliver, I will quiver with delight. But will it last me for all my life, or one more lonely night, the lust, the flesh, the eyes and the pride of life, drain the life right out of me.” – Mike Roe.

The Bible declares that some people will be “…lovers of pleasure, more than lovers of God.” 2 Tim 3:4. If God is Love, are the pleasures we seek the antithesis of love, thus the opposite of who God is? Is being “in love” only our desire to seek our own pleasure and in direct conflict with God, who is True Love? Since Jesus is God in flesh, is He the revelation of love? If we believe that He is, should we not seek Him first?

Emotions can be turned by the whisper of a phrase, the flash of a smile, or the slightest gesture of kindness? But behind the turn, flash, or gesture what is the motive? Do we seek someone’s attention because we think him or her worthy of us and deserve our attention? Do we “love” someone because of what they can do for us? Are we seeking someone for ourselves because they will “enhance our being?” Why are you attracted to the person or object of your desire? It’s so easy to get swept away in a moment that we don’t take the time to plunge into the depths of the object of that affection. So many are battered upon the rocks of reality when getting past the surface to the core of what we desire.

Sometimes when we dig to the core we find the motive in ourselves and we don’t like what we find. We recoil in horror, or we run away in shame. We hide; we push away those that we love. We don’t like what we find and we don’t want others to see. We’re ashamed. When Adam and Eve succumbed to temptation and disobeyed God they were confronted with the specter of themselves – naked and ashamed, separated from God. When God came into the garden Adam and Eve hid and tried to cover their shame. When confronted by God they tried to place the blame elsewhere, even going so far as Adam trying to indirectly blame God for their disobedience. “The woman whom YOU gave me…” Eve had a better excuse…”The serpent deceived me.”

“The devil made me do it!” a Flip Wilson character always used to declare. How much is truly the devil, and how much is our own desires. The devil tempts, we only respond. We can respond by faith to the One who loves us with everything in Him, or give in to the father of lies.

“For God so loved the world…” John 3:16. He loved us so much He gave his life. Everything He did/does/will do He does for us. God made the covering for Adam and Eve. It took a sacrifice. God has made a covering for us. It took His greatest sacrifice. Love covers a multitude of sins. (Proverbs 10:12, James 5:20)

I believe God created us so He could have an outlet to share His love. We responded by rejecting Him, abusing Him, and ultimately crucifying Him. Love, many times, takes a backseat to our own desires. But God, like the prodigal’s father, waits with arms open wide, forgiveness in heart, and a robe of righteousness for our tattered clothes of self-righteousness.

May we surrender to Jesus, for when we surrender to Jesus, we surrender to True Love.

There is so much missing from this. There is so much to learn.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Hello there all who enter here

Welcome to my attempt at a blog spot...A couple of years ago I wrote a newsletter about politics, so I will share it as my first blog...

Politics has become like sports to me…not worth watching (I know that statement just turned a few people off). I know that I am in a fallen world. I know that I am to be ‘in the world,’ but not ‘of the world.’ It is so easy to get caught up in the whole “I’m right, you’re wrong,” mind set. It is easy to condemn that which we don’t agree with.

Political debate has degenerated down to name calling. Issues are no longer debated. One side presents an issue. The other side stonewalls, or filibusters. The issues aren’t discussed. Name calling and character assassination are used instead of well thought out arguments of why the other side of the issue is better. He who has the better sound bite oft times wins the debate. Political discourse is not based on fact but who has the best one liner denigrating the opposing view. But a willing media most of the time taking one side of the issue doesn’t help either. They amplify their own point of view and ask leading or misleading questions.

Each side likes to think that God’s not on their opponent’s side. They like to say the other side is acting “un-Christian.” They like to throw Jesus’ name out as a political football. When falling behind in the polls play the “religion” card. Some people fall for it. Others will roll their eyes but accept it as all a part of winning the battle for power.

Jesus quoting Isaiah said, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” Matthew 15:7 (KJV)

I’m all for being part of the political process. I’m all for having the right to vote. I’m all for being involved. What I’m not all for is equating one party over the other as being the party of God.

Joshua 5:13, 14.
13 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, "Are You for us or for our adversaries?"
14 So He said, "No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come." And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, "What does my Lord say to His servant?"

The only side that really matters is God’s. How many, who claim that God is on their side, are willing to fall on their face to worship and ask, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” and then are willing to do it?

If we want to analyze this whole right versus left debate lets use a little history. In Jesus time there were 2 main religious groups - the Pharisees or the right, and the Sadducees or the left.
The Pharisees were very ‘religious.’ Rules and traditions were their gods. They believed they were okay with God because they constructed this maze of rules that they believed they were following. They were ‘good’ because they followed their rules. The outside appearance was what was important. They held to their rules while inwardly plotting to have Jesus executed. Jesus said to the Pharisees, “Why do you transgress the commandments of God by your traditions?” Matthew 15:3.

The Sadducees could be equated with the ‘religious left.’ They were the non-spiritual religious group. They denied the resurrection of the dead. It was more important to get along with the world than be faithful to God. Their standing in the places of power was most important to them. They didn’t believe in angels or the spirit world. Bad theology prevailed. One of the things that Jesus said to the Sadducees was, “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the Power of God.” Matthew 22:29.

The thing about the Pharisees and the Sadducees is that both groups hated Jesus and sought to have him killed. On the right, mercy and compassion are sacrificed on the altar of ‘religion.’ On the left the Truth and Life are sacrificed on the altar of ‘self.’

What is the problem with politics? The people we elect into office are still…people – fallen men and women in need of the Savior. We should never place our trust in governments. God sets up governments and God will tear them down. Our trust should be in the God of creation – not in the created. Our problem is not that we are involved with politics. Our problem is we think government will solve our problems.

II Chronicles 7:14: If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

May we all come to trust Jesus for all our needs...for in the end, we all need Love (Jesus).

Blessings and Grace,