Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Learning is so hard and painful sometimes.

Friday, May 20, 2011


This verse stuck out to me:
Therefore speak to them and tell them, 'This is what the Sovereign Lord says: When any of the Israelites set up idols in their hearts and put a wicked stumbling block before their faces and then go to a prophet, I the Lord will answer them myself in keeping with their great idolatry.  I will do this to recapture the hearts of the people of Israel, who have all deserted me for their idols.' -Ezekiel 14:4-5

These verses make up a story:  (Go and read all of Ezekiel 16 if you can)
Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, "Live!" I made you grow like a plant of the field.  You grew up and developed and became the most beautiful of jewels.  Your breasts had formed and your hair grew, yet you were bare and naked. Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your naked body.  I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign Lord, and you became mine.  -Ezekiel 16:6-8

And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign Lord. But you trusted in your beauty and used your fame to become a prostitute. You lavished your favors on anyone who passed by and your beauty became his. -Ezekiel 16:14-15

You engaged in prostitution with the Assyrians too, because you were insatiable; and even after that, you still were not satisfied.  Then you increased your promiscuity to include Babylonia, and a land of merchants, but even with this you were not satisfied. -Ezekiel 16: 28-29

Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you.  -Ezekiel 16:60

Then, when I make atonement for you for all you have done, you will remember and be ashamed and never again open your mouth because of your humiliation, declares the Sovereign Lord. -Ezekiel 16:63

I advise everyone to read Ezekiel 16.  Especially women.  It is one of the most beautiful and accurate pictures of what is really going on between us and God.
Praise the Lord.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How Do We Worship?

There are so many things in this world that we praise.  We praise music and the musicians who write it, we praise art and the artists who make it, we praise films and the people who produce, direct, film, and act in them, we praise buildings and the people who design and build them.  All of these things and people receive praise and adoration even though we never were directly provided for by these things and these people.  The entire act of our praise is outward, we don't want anything back, we don't expect to get anything from our appreciation.

Why would we praise and adore the Lord and all of a sudden expect something out of it?  We should approach worship as a way to give something to our Creator.  We may end up feeling wonderful and renewed and energized, but the goal is not to help ourselves.  God has already provided for us in every way we could ever possibly ask for, and we deserved not an ounce of it.

Thomas Carlyle said that "Worship is transcendent wonder."  Transcendent meaning exceeding or surpassing in degree or excellence.  Worship is not about us, worship is all about being in excellent wonder.  Much like the popular hymn "How Great Thou Art" states:

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works thy hands hath made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Carl Boberg is expressing all of the things that God has done.  He is not talking about himself or asking God to give Him something.  His "awesome wonder" is completely outward.

God doesn't have to come into our presence or bless us with joy and peace, but He chooses to because He loves us.  If we worship as a way to get something for ourselves, then how is that worship at all?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

That Blissful Climb

Most everyone has heard faith described as a series of mountains and valleys.  Some may have also heard people say that if you are not progressing forward in your relationship with Jesus, you're falling back.

Now, there are flaws in almost every analogy, but just work with me.

Every moment in your faith you will either climb the mountain or fall down the mountain.  When I imagine a mountain top I imagine a time of relief, or of relaxation.  Its a time when we stop working so hard and just enjoy.  But it is also the end of an accomplishment and a time of preparation for descent.  We should never consider anything over, and we should definitely never want to descend.  I think that our "mountain tops" are simply the times when climbing the mountain is just so incredibly joyful because we're walking right alongside our Savior.  We still have to be faithful in prayer, and consistent in study, and undeviating in obedience because that is what will bring us closer to the blissful presence of our Jesus.  We have to continue to surrender and continue to learn and love and accept Him more and more so that we won't fall back down.  It can be daunting looking up the mountain.  It seems to never end and there are some really tough spots that look impossible to climb.  But when you don't want to even start the climb, don't be overwhelmed by the whole slope.  Take your first step and then take a second and then a third and a fourth, and when you can't take the fifth step, look beside you and let Jesus hold your hand.

The valleys are inevitable because of our obvious humanity.  We will struggle and there will be times when we don't feel delighted or carefree, but we are trusting God because we know Him and He told us during our blissful climb that He would be with us even in the valleys.