June 2012

I will proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God!

Deuteronomy 32: 3


This statement is a part of the grand and beautiful poem that makes up a large part of Moses’ last words to the people who he had lead out of captivity and to the brink of their God-ordained and granted home of dwelling. Although Moses, himself, knows that he will die in a very short amount of time, he is still concerned with the way that he is passing along God’s legacy. These words form a final, summary statement of intent for every breath that he still has to breath and a charge and a challenge to all that were listening that day and to every one of us who reads these words through the rest of time.


The idea of proclamation that he gives us is intriguing. How do we do this? We can certainly stand on street corners and shout out God’s name. That works, at least it draws attention in some places. In our world this probably looks like using our smart phones to tweet the message to those hundreds or even thousands of truly close friends that we have in our electronic universe. Perhaps the name of the Lord is proclaimed by our political rhetoric or by the stickers that we place on our cars, and maybe He is glorified by the money that we give and in the good works that we perform. All of these can be true, but I suspect that Moses had something more in mind.


It seems that the very best way for people to proclaim God’s name in our world is found in the way that we live. This starts in our most private moments. It begins in the interactions that we have with those who are closest to us, and it is founded upon our relationship with the very One whose name we seek to shout. God’s true name is love, mercy, compassion, patience, truth, and righteousness. His greatness is memorialized by self-sacrifice and humility. When people move out of themselves and their definition of what is needful in our world and engage the hard, messy and pervasive needs of humanity that God’s Spirit leads us to, then His name rings from the mountaintops. As we still our need to be heard and listen with our hearts to Christ’s voice of reason and peace, the greatness of God, His glory, is visible in our world.

Take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Ephesians 6: 13


The decision to strap on a suit of armor is not one that should be taken lightly. This is not a suit that is intended to convey a light and jovial message. It doesn’t say that the wearer is prepared for a friendly cup of tea and some casual conversation. Armor says, “I am ready for a fight, and I believe in my odds of winning!” These are tools of war. God designed His armor in a way that it would equip us weak and frail humans to engage Satan in this world and to come out as victors.


However, like warriors throughout the ages, just deciding to put on the gear isn’t nearly enough. Without training, preparation, and continued practice, the armor is nothing more than a costume. In fact, it is a rather dangerous costume, for it signals a readiness to engage that the forces of evil in our world don’t take lightly. They are always spoiling for a fight. When they see the glint of steel or hear the clink of those ready shoes on pavement Satan’s soldiers come to them like wasps to a picnic table. It is up to each of us, as God’s children, to be committed to our King and to be prepared to follow Him into the battle.


The good news is that God’s armor is comprised of the very best materials possible in the universe. Also, it is not hard to learn how to use, for Christ’s Spirit does the training as God’s Word speaks the truth of life that brings strength and confidence to our hearts and minds. Still, we are required to be active participants. As a starting place for preparation we need to submit to the will of God. We also must face our own weakness and sin honestly, confess it openly to God, and enter into deep repentance so that Christ can cleanse and strengthen us. Also, preparation for battle requires us to join ranks with a community of faith who will stand with us, hold us up when we are weak and wounded, and who will speak Christ’s loving truth into our hearts when we waiver from the course that God has set out. God’s armor is perfectly suited for the struggle and wearing it in His will does equip us for the battle that we will need to fight today.

I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be blameless.

Genesis 17: 1b


This is a point in the story of our ancestor Abraham when he has tried to figure out the answers to the most troubling challenge of his life by going his own way and by doing things in a manner that he readily understood. Abraham lacked the ability to just hang in there long enough to see how God would resolve things. He listened to the first person who gave him an idea for resolution that seems like something that he could accomplish on his own. The actions required were understandable to him, for they didn’t require anything supernatural or outside of Abraham’s control. Yet, Abraham was totally wrong, and God was about to fill his world with the touch of that which for the Lord is totally natural.


As our days progress and our personal stories unfold, it seems that we are often in the same place. We believe that God is good to His word, and we trust His accomplishment of it. Still, when the pressures start to mount, the time for resolution gets short, or our nerves become frayed and our patience runs thin, we start working on the solutions, and we become open to suggestions that are too often not ones that God would or could endorse. Then human nature takes hold, and we try to do it all on our own and keep everything that we are doing out of the sight of God.


For Abraham, the Lord made it very clear and understandable, and that is the same for all of us, too. He is who and what He is, for He is the Creator of all, the ruler of everything, and the power to accomplish anything is held in His hands. God also loves each of us absolutely, cares about our needs as the true Father that He is, and continually blesses us in all of the ways that we require. God wants me to live my life in His presence with all of my thoughts, feelings, aspirations, and plans fully in His view. The Lord gives me His word, the people in my spiritual family, and His Spirit to comfort, counsel, and assist me along the journey. He calls upon me and all of His people to walk before Him in full submission to His will and with bold confidence in God’s direction for our travels.

Do you presume on the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

Romans 2: 4


Repentance is a word that most people would prefer to leave out of our functional vocabulary. We can readily embrace the idea of God’s kindness and of His loving grace. We rely upon the fact that God is patient with us as we test the waters of sinful thought and behavior, but it is harder to connect His call to repentance to it all. Yet it is exactly what God does call upon people to do. Repentance was the cry that John the Baptist uttered as he announced the coming of the Christ, and God continues to call to all people to turn away from the sin that entraps and destroys and to embrace the purification and restoration that Christ grants to us.


Repentance requires for us to accept the fact that we are sinful beings. It is based upon the realization that there is a dramatic and total divide between the ways of this world and those of God’s kingdom. Thus repentance demands that we change direction, turn around, and surrender ourselves totally to God’s way of being. Until we accept the necessity of such radical submission to Christ, we will continue to struggle through a life in which we seem to gain ground for a while and then give it all back in times of weakness, discouragement, or doubt. These periods of return to old ways of functioning are discouraging, and they are not the way that God wants to see His people living. He gets no pleasure from our suffering and our struggles.


It is a simple fact that God is very slow to judge. Without question He holds all of the evidence that He would need to convict every one of us of our capital crimes. Still God is the kindly and loving Father who waits with great patience for His children to embrace His truth. He withholds the judgment that we all deserve in anticipation of our turning to Him. God wants for each of us to make the decision to seek Him out. He grants us that ability, and He allows us opportunities to continually seek Him and His righteous way. God’s grace and His kindness are offered to us in order to call to us out of a life of self-determined worldly truth and into an unending, moment by moment state of yielded submission and total surrender to Christ and to His transformative truth. True repentance is not always easy to engage, but it is more than worth the pain that is involved for it leads us into the will of God.

Now there was a man inJerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation ofIsrael, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.

Luke 2: 25


Consider this man who lived so long ago and in a culture that would be completely foreign to most of us. Here Luke describes him as living in ways that I think of as highly desirable. Simeon actually lived a life that was in sync with the law of God, for it must have been characterized by the way that he treated others. Righteousness only exists when our actions consistently demonstrate the love and the truth of God. He was also committed to this way of living. Simeon devoted himself, his whole being, to loving God and to seeking His will.


Now this ancient man was also focused on one very specific result that comes from our relationship with God. He seems to have been looking continually into the past history of his people and then focusing his gaze intently toward the future with his heart set upon God’s promise of reconciliation and restoration of all peoples from the ravages of sin. Simeon prayed for and sought to bring others to understand the truth of God’s promised comforter, the Messiah. I would bet the farm on the fact that he never stopped sharing his understanding of these truths with the people that he encountered, either.


This is very challenging to me, for here is a man who had been living before Jesus was born; yet, Simeon believed in the Christ totally. He lived his life in a manner that demonstrated this belief in both words and actions. When Simeon was present, people knew that God was there, for Simeon’s life was ruled by God’s Spirit. Simeon’s example causes me to seek out God’s perspective and will for my life. It causes me to ask, “Lord, how am I doing? Where do I fall short of Simeon’s example of what is possible?” My Lord, I pray that You will purify my heart, give my will strength, and clarify my understanding of You; so that, when people see me, they will be able to say that the Holy spirit is upon me, too.


For when I have brought them (the Israelites) into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to give to their fathers, and they have eaten and are full and have grown fat, they will turn to other gods and serve them, and despise Me and break My covenant.

Deuteronomy 31: 20


This is strong language that comes from the mouth of the aged and soon to be dead Moses. God has granted to him a view into the future that is thrilling in the way that God will fulfill His promises to provide a dwelling place that is bountiful in all areas of human need. However, Moses also is made aware of the fact that these people who have been so hard for him to lead have not changed all that much. They will enter into the riches of God’s blessing, and they will become complacent and bored with it all. They will go off searching for something better, and they will abandon the hard discipline that righteous living demands.


It seems that there may very well be a cautionary tale in all of this for people today. For the most part we have it all a lot easier than the people that Moses was leading. Yet we still live in a hostile land where the only true and reliable provider of what we need is God. We live today in the shadow of constant peril. There are evil giants roaming our landscape, there are false gods calling to us with their winsome voices, and our culture makes it easy to ignore active involvement with God’s Word and in Christian fellowship. So the words of Moses are speaking loudly to me, and they cry out a challenge and a warning, “You are growing fat; you are acting like you no longer fear God and desire to serve Him with all of your heart.”


The righteous life is not a sedentary one. It requires that we remain active and highly vigilant. In order to avoid becoming fat in our spirits and complacent in our minds we need to continually seek out God. He desires for His people to turn to Him in prayer with worship, praise, and thanksgiving on our lips. Our Lord wants for us to stay lean and light on our feet through the constant practice of reading His Word and discussing its content, meaning and application. Christ implores us to join Him in the daily battle for the souls of people and for the healing of our sin ravaged lands. Regardless of age or physical condition, in Christ we can all remain hungry and stay lean as we passionately serve the King.


The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;

The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

Psalm 19: 8

There is a right way to live. It is a part of the way that we were created. Yet, sinful disobedience entered into our lives; so, it is often buried so deeply beneath layers of self determined personal code and law that it gets hidden and locked away. Righteousness is buried so deeply that our ensuing thoughts and the behaviors that are their result of them don’t look much like those of Christ. There is a sadness and a heaviness that runs through our culture that is the result of the prevalence of this sort of human devised interaction. Our vision is clouded, and our hearts are made heavy.

Yet, there are answers, and there is relief from this oppression. God has implanted a desire for truth in our hearts. People have a deep-seated need for that which is eternal and not situational or convenient for a season. God provides the source of eternal truth to all who seek it. God’s hand made our world, and His law binds it together. Thus, when we act in ways that are contrary to the will of the Lord, the tension and the disconnectedness that follows is nothing more than the natural outcome of acting in a manner that is contrary to the forces of true nature.

Peace, joy, and restoration are readily available through God’s plan for living. His plan is clearly defined in His Word and is communicated by His Spirit. God, the Father, leads us to His Son, Jesus Christ, and He elevates our existence into one that is lived in theKingdomofGodso that we are now dwelling in the presence of our Lord.  When we decide to listen to God’s words of salvation, renewal and hope, He provides the insight that is needed for what we are facing today. As we allow His truth into our hearts, our thinking is changed to reflect God’s loving and righteous ways, and God’s true law becomes the joy of our hearts.

Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Romans 5: 5


When we become totally and completely committed to something or to someone there exists a very real element of risk. For commitment should lead to an open proclamation of the relationship and the deliberate exclusion of contradictory ones; thus, it also puts us in a position where that decision is open to scrutiny and to question. As regards this aspect of life we are on public display and we are open to being challenged and questioned on validity of that decision.


When we have placed our hope in the new car that we have purchased, we are guaranteed that there will be disappointment as it ages and its parts start to fail. When that hope is liked to our portfolio of stocks and other investments, well, maybe yours are doing better than mine; if so, do you have any tips for me? Our broken nature as people makes it certain that hope that is founded in human relationships will be tested and will disappoint. It seems that any time we creatures turn to the created as the foundation and the source of our hope we experience the sense of shame that is caused by heartbreak and loss. This is the natural and the inevitable result of turning to that which is more readily understood and grasped, that is the creation, rather than surrendering our selves to the seemingly unknowable God, the Creator.


Yet, it is in and through this act of surrender that we become known. In Christ our true selves are revealed. A commitment to God is singular in the entire universe in that it is effected through a contract that was executed by another, by God Himself, paid for by Christ alone, and carried out through the on going actions of the Holy Spirit. The cure for the brokenness of all of creation is found in Christ; yet, God does not ask most of creation to respond to the great question of acceptance and surrender. That opportunity to risk all yet to gain everything through commitment to Christ is something that He grants only to the pinnacle of His creation. For it seems that God desires to pour His Love out upon humanity, and He seeks the opportunity to flood our hearts with it. As we hope in Christ, His Spirit fills us with the love of God that sustains us through everything that we will encounter. It is this love that heals us and that makes us God’s agents of healing in the rest of creation.

Endurance produces character, and character produces hope.

Romans 5: 4


Sometimes my mind speculates on just how much better this world would be if only God would just step in and fix the things that are wrong. If only we had better leaders in government and in business then we wouldn’t be in the financial mess that we are in. If God would just end disease and illness then so many people wouldn’t be going through the torment and the suffering that they bring. If only God would —-, we can just supply the area of need and the hardship that comes due to the frailty of our humanity. Yet, if God did choose to reach into our world and in a god-like manner simply change things, consider what the real outcome would look like.


Would people be so impressed by the power and the control that God possesses that they would respect Him and give all of their allegiance to Him? Would our nations become lands where righteousness, justice, and true faith rule? Maybe I am too skeptical or perhaps my view of life and of this world is not open enough to appreciate the potential that resides in the human heart, but I don’t think that either of these conditions is actually true. Life experience and the recitation of God’s view upon the way that humanity has functioned throughout history tell me otherwise. The sinful self-reliance and desire for control that our ancestors selected over simple obedience, absolute trust and complete faith in the goodness of God has left us in a hopelessly broken state as people, and it has caused deep fractures in the fabric of His perfect creation, this world.


Real healing comes about when individuals decide to yield our wills to God. It is produced through surrender to the one true heart that loves us absolutely and that desires for each and for all of us humans to know and to respect Him fully. This is a form of healing that doesn’t always ease our pain; however, it will provide us with understanding of it and with purpose for it. This God gifted ability to stand tall and strong despite the hurt and the loss is character. It is what marks people as trustworthy. Character leads individuals to seek the counsel of God above all other, and it allows us to make decisions and to stand firm in them even when our culture, our community, and our friends might disagree. God also builds character in His people so that we can be bold yet know that we will not always be right. Character grants people the ability to stay confident while admitting failure. Through all of this God brings hope. Hope is not found in wealth, in government or in people. Hope is made known as God, Himself, and His perfect purpose are revealed. It is hope that leads God’s people to bring Christ’s healing touch to our land.



We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance.

Romans 5: 3


Paul must have been in on some sort of great cosmic secret. Maybe it was actually a God-type joke, instead? Whatever, the nature and the source of this insight might have been, Paul makes a statement here that is truly hard, if not impossible, to fully understand and to embrace as my own. Why would any sane and rational person ever think that suffering is a good thing?  More so, it seems completely crazy to publicly state that it is something to be rejoiced over. Suffering is harsh, painful, and even cruel. It takes the strength out of our bodies and it robs our spirits of their trust in God.


Still, in my experience, Paul has proven to be a true and a God inspired commentator on life and on living it in the fullest measure of God’s blessings. I am also aware that Paul suffered greatly for his faith in Christ and in service to God’s calling, and he was simply following in the footsteps of Jesus who suffered to a degree that no one else can comprehend for the sake of all of humanity. The ability to rejoice in and through sufferings of all sorts, types and intensity is a mark of our relationship with Christ. He provides a purpose and a meaning to life that transcends the momentary and that elevates the orientation of the day into the heavenlies.


In Christ, we are never alone. With Him we have nothing to fear, and in our fearlessness, there is no need for shame or for regret. We are sinners who have been proclaimed clean by the only true and righteous judge. We are lost sheep that have been found through the relentlessness of God’s heart and by the consistency of His desire to be in a relationship with each of us. The events that cause us to suffer do not always make sense. The pain, loss, grief, and confusion that ensue are disorienting and enervating. Yet, Christ has promised something greater, and He delivers on His promises. He broke through the heavy lid that sin has placed upon this world, and He takes us into the reality of theKingdomofGod. Suffering takes us out of reliance upon ourselves and on our strength and ability, and it forces us to trust more fully in God’s perfect and unstoppable truth and understanding. As we rely fully upon Christ, He will grant us the gift of the endurance that we need to finish the day as victors in the race of life.

Next Page »