and the One who walks with me on it.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Different Way- Part 1

Early assembly line picture... I couldn't find anything better!
       It was about 1990 and I was working in a seatbelt factory on the assembly line.  We worked on the line that did rails- that’s the kind of seatbelts that run back and forth in the door frame and automatically move over you when you close the door.  There were a few of us on the line.  The last person put on the bracket with the screws, washers, lock washers and such, then we hit the button and a machine came down to push the retaining washers on to keep everything together.  Generally, that last job kept the production at a slower rate because of all the fine finger work.

       Most people hated that job because people would complain about how slow you were or because it was a stressful job when they expected so many per minute and most could not keep up.  When I finally got to try the position, and because I am an efficiency freak, I had to figure out how to do it better.  It was all so slow and awkward.  By the end of my first shift I had moved things around to work better.  Now able to efficiently use two hands, I cut the time needed to do the job and soon I was waiting for parts and the line could not keep up with me.  My different way of doing things was better- it increased production and was less stressful.

       When Jesus began His ministry at about 30 yrs, He was not what was expected of the Messiah.  The Jews thought he was coming to save them as a people from their oppressors, but He was really coming to show them the way of salvation.  Along with the salvation message, He taught them things few else did- in fact, it was so different that the religious people of the day would often get angry with Him.  The ‘Sermon on the Mount’ is one of those teachings that went against what society generally thinks to do.  This teaching was to His disciples, in other words, believers. Here are some things I think about:

Blessed are the poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. (v.20)
     -The poor are probably blessed because they are forced
     to trust / rely on God for even basic survival.
Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be filled.
Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. (v.21)
     -How different from the church today as many think we
    should never be poor (as a beggar), hungry or sad or
Blessed are you when men shall hate you, and when they shall cut you off, and when they shall reproach you and shall cast out your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. (v.22)
     -We should expect men: to detest us (not because of
                                         our foolishness or sin though),
                                          separate from our company,
                                          defame or taunt us,
                                          are harmful or devise mischief
                                          against us.

Rejoice in that day and leap for joy.  For behold, your reward is great in Heaven(v.23)
But woe to you who are rich! For you have received your consolation. (v.24)
     -Hmmm… He’s still talking to His disciples- woe to the rich? Could it be because the rich are living in excess while their fellow believers struggle to survive?
Woe to you who are full! For you shall hunger.  Woe to you who laugh now! For you shall mourn and weep. (v.25)
Woe to you when all men shall speak well of you! For so their fathers did to the false prophets. (v.26)
     -If ALL men speak well of us then probably we aren’t standing up (vocally or physically) for righteousness, truth and Jesus because that tends to make others mad at us.

(stay tuned tomorrow for Part 2)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Would You Give Up Money?

       Not possible, you say.  How can we live today without money?  How would we eat, have shelter, pay bills, raise a family?  But there are several people known who choose to do so; one of them is Daniel Suelo, born in 1961, who left his last $30 in a phone booth and went to live moneyless in the desert.

       He had a degree, and held jobs just as other people did.  Though he’s not crazy by DSM standards, many consider him crazy because he chooses to live differently.  He eats wild vegetation, scavenges road kill, pulls food from dumpsters, and is sometimes fed by friends and strangers.  Currently, he lives in Moab, Utah and uses caves for homes at times.

       His philosophy is to use only what is freely given or discarded and what is already present and already running.  His goal is to take as little and give as much as possible.  Using the public library is the only government organization he uses.  His possessions would fit into a small closet.  Most of us wouldn’t even conceive of giving up everything to go ‘live off the land’ and though many hold Daniel in high esteem, his choice to give up money is insignificant compared to what Christ gave up for us.

       Jesus is God (Tt. 2:13) and lives in complete unity with the Father and Spirit.  Jesus was there in the beginning (Jh. 1:1,2; Cl. 1:17) and is eternal (1Jh. 5:20), therefore He has all the attributes of God- all knowing, all powerful, all present, etc.  Imagine being King of the world (1Tm. 6:15) with everything at your fingertips, all of creation at your command (Hb. 1:3; Cl. 1:16), and owning it entirely (Ps. 50:10-12), but then ‘walking away’ from it all to become the lowest status person, a servant who doesn’t even have any features to make him look special (Is. 53:2).

(Christ Jesus) who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Php. 2:6-8
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, for your sakes He became poor, in order that you might be made rich through His poverty. 2Cr. 8:9

       So God took the form of man (Mt. 1:23; 1Tm 3:16), a babe born in a stable, a little known carpenter, ‘an average Joe’.  He showed us the way of salvation (Jh. 14:6), and then, as an innocent-sinless- man (Hb. 4:15; 7:26; 1Pt. 2:22; 1Jh. 3:5) humbled Himself to die the shameful death of a reprobate, a criminal for OUR sins (1Cr. 15:3; Is. 53:1-7), in order to reconcile us to God.  In other words, Jesus was born to die for our sins so that WE would not have to.

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
          and through him to reconcile to himself all things,
                    whether on earth or in heaven,
                               making peace by the blood of his cross.
                                                           Cl. 1:19,20 ESV

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Hiding in the Clothes Racks

       One of my favorite things to do when I went to the department stores with my mom as a little girl was to hide in the hanging clothes racks.  The best racks were the ones in a circle that left a great middle space to stand in.  Inside it was like my secret place where no one could see me, not even the customers checking the rack I was in.  It was also my hiding place from my mom.

       Now, I could be incredibly quiet when I hid; undetectable noises only, so it was near impossible for anyone to find me unless I wanted them to.  Mom used to get so angry when I’d hide in the stores because she couldn’t find me, and I’m not sure, but I probably didn’t come out until threatened.  {I can still hide and not be found :)  }  Of course, as a mom myself, I’m sure I worried my mom quite often. 

       Now, in the case of Adam and Eve, we know full well that God knew exactly where they hid themselves in the garden since He is omniscient (all knowing*).  That means He can see everything, hear everything, and knows everything, even the intents of our hearts! (1Chr. 28:9)  So the question becomes, why didn’t God just walk up to where they were hiding, say ‘I can see you behind that ____, so you can come out now’ or better yet (like I would do) quietly appear behind them and shout ‘BOO!’?

And they heard the sound of Jehovah God walking up and down in the garden at the breeze of the day. And the man and his wife hid themselves from the face of Jehovah God in the middle of the trees of the garden. And Jehovah God called to the man and said to him, Where are you?  Gen. 3:8,9 LITV
He'll gladly hear our anger even if at Him

       The first option my mom took to find me was walk up and down the aisles looking for my feet under the racks, listening for movement and hoping I’d come out.  (These next parts are my opinions on why God acted as He did, but only He really knows.)  I think God was giving Adam and Eve the opportunity to come out on their own and tell Him what happened (even if He already knew).  As parents, we sometimes know the bad actions our kids have done, but we wait for them to come to us to confess instead of confronting them.  So God was wanting His children to come out and talk to Him.

       When His walking back and forth didn’t get their willing attention, He called to Adam as my mom probably did me, “Vicky, Vicky, where are you?”  Adam finally answered God, and I can almost hear His sigh, “Oh, Adam, if you only understood…”  See, we can’t hide from God.  We can try, but it will NEVER work.  Unlike those great hiding places I found but was never found in, there are NO hiding places from God.

Jehovah looks down from Heaven; He beholds all the sons of mankind.  Ps. 33:13
For he looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens. Job 28:24
Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight, but all things are naked and opened to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Heb. 4:13 (also Ps. 139:7-10)

       Why do we try and conceal our sins, our flaws, our negative thoughts, our failings, our ‘bad’ emotions, and all our other negative actions AND thoughts from the God who knows everything?  All our hiding only results in a fractured relationship with Him.  In order to be restored, we need to willingly run to God with open arms and ‘jump onto His lap’ telling Him all that’s in our hearts- good and bad.  God is big enough to take it!  Only then can we have an open and honest relationship with our Father, and only then will the chains that keep us in bondage be broken off.

Jesus said,
He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim deliverance to the captives

*1Sm. 2:3; Job 37:16; Ps. 139:7-10; Ps. 147:5; Is. 55:9; 1Cr. 2:10; 1Jh. 3:20

Monday, July 15, 2013

Just How Big is God?

      A storm rages outside my window right now.  The thunder rolls like bowling balls being thrown down old alley floors while lightning flashes in the black skies like a photographer’s flash.  We’ve already lost power once and I don’t want to take a chance on losing it again, so today’s post will be shorter than normal.

For he looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens. When he gave to the wind its weight and apportioned the waters by measure, when he made a decree for the rain and a way for the lightning of the thunder, then he saw it and declared it; he established it, and searched it out.  Job 28:24-27 ESV

       God is big enough that He can see the ends of the earth and everything else.  He sees all of mankind and everything they do (scary thought, hey?), “The eyes of Jehovah are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.(Pr. 15:3).  From His dwelling place He looks on all the people of the earth.(Ps. 33:14) indicates He sees all of us in every place doing good and evil for “…all things are naked and opened to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.(Hb. 4:13).  In comparison, I can only see about three feet in front of me and a few feet to each side.

       Our mighty God created the universe (Gn. 1) by His word, “…the ages were framed by a word of God…” (Hb. 11:3) and sustains it by His word as well, “…upholding all things by the word of His power…” (Hb. 1:3).  So He chose how it would all work, when seasons and times would happen, how the rain cycle would work and the winds would blow.  God set it all in motion and only He determines how it functions.  It was God that established the thunder and lightning that I’m hearing and seeing right now!

God sees it
     God declares it
          God establishes it
               God searches it out!

Our God is the Most High God, the only living God of the Universe!

Praise His name forevermore!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Accompanying the Prince

       Rob is a prisoner of war in the enemy territory.  The enemy is merciless and likes to starve, torment and torture the prisoners of war.  When the try to cut off Rob’s arm, he uses their inattention against them to escape and though he tries unsuccessfully to free another man on his way out, he is only able to free an ‘enemy’ imprisoned in the same chamber.  After they leave, the man (Az) tells Rob that since Rob saved his life, he is obligated by vow to accompany him until he saves Rob’s life; to do less would be dishonourable.

       Rob tries many times to get Az to leave even giving him opportunity to save his life to be released from his vow, yet the man continues to follow Rob into his home country even when trouble with the local thugs then the police happens.  If the storyline sounds vaguely familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen the movie in the 90’s- it’s called Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

       This morning I was thinking about following the Lord Jesus, “…If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.(Lk. 9:23) and I was thinking of Robin Hood and how Azeem accompanies Robin into unfamiliar and dangerous territory because of a vow due to Robin saving His life.

Jesus has truly saved our lives, and for that we follow (same word means accompany) Him on our life’s journey, even into unfamiliar and sometimes dangerous territory.

       Though we don’t always know what is coming our way, what trials will ‘hit’ us or where we are going in the long term, we do know the One we accompany along the way by the Words written in His book, the Bible.  For this reason our journey can be filled with peace (1) and joy (2) no matter what we face, and because of our trust in Him, we need not fear (3): the dangers, the troubles, the unknown, and all that we will encounter on the journey for we do not walk alone (4).  He walks by our side, in front leading (5) the way, behind (6) as our rear guard, holds (7) us when needed, and in us (8) that we might be one with Him (9).

    (1) For he himself is our peace… Eph. 2:14 ESV
    (2) And may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound
    in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Rm. 15:13
    (3) There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has torment
    1Jh. 4:18
    (3,4,5) Do not fear; for I am with you; be not dismayed; for I am your God... I will uphold you
    with the right hand of My righteousness. Is. 41:10
    (3,4)Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you
    wherever you go." Js. 1:9
    (5) For this God is our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death. Ps. 48:14
    For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. Rm.    8:14
    (6)and the God of Israel will be your rereward. Is. 52:12 KJV
    (8) Whoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in him and he in God. 
    1Jh. 4:15
    (9)that they also may be one in Us… Jh. 17:21

       We are not alone for the One who accompanies us is faithful and true (Rv. 19:11), and He says He will never leave or forsake us (Hb. 13:5).  For a certainty, our Lord remains with us on our journey.  Thank You Lord!

God is faithful,
by whom you were called to the fellowship* of His Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
1Cr. 1:9

* Strong’s alternative meanings for fellowship