Thursday, July 2, 2020

A Reconciliation Answer...


It's very simple, actually....

the story of reconciliation.

It's not a "race" thing, 

unless you are talking the human race.

No question, it is a human-race-need.

The story starts in the Garden of Eden.

God made man in His image.

His Plan-A was that we'd live as image-bearers.

So, He made Adam, and followed the first-man with the first-woman, Eve.

They had one "law" to follow.

But, their greed, and strong-internal-desire of wanting more, destroyed them.

Call it what you want, but the reality is that their action of disobedience was SIN.

And, sin separated man from God.

Peace-with-God abolished.

But, God loved His image-bearers.

So, reconciliation became the critical need.

To cover for the consequence of death, and bring reconciliation,

our great God-of-compassion sacrificed an animal (the first death in the Garden),

and covered the man and the woman.

ALL RECONCILIATION
STARTS WITH SACRIFICE....

Reconciliation restored.

Peace-with-God renewed.

Fellowship re-set.

Next thing we know is that man comes against man and a murder takes place....

Reconciliation needed again...

And, this sequence became a pattern through history, until Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice.

Once-for-all He died to bring reconciliation.

And, it was accomplished.

Finished.

Forever.

There was made and will be a way back to reconciliation...........ALWAYS!

SUCH GOOD NEWS SHOULDN'T BE CONTAINED....

So, the Lord God began compelling those whose lives were changed because of Christ's death....

His "new creations" (2 Cor. 5:17)...


...and, He gave them a ministry of reconciliation...

A ministry designed to restore peace-with-God,

and, PEACE WITH ONE ANOTHER....

"Go and tell...." He authorized.

"Go and make more disciples, who will go and make more disciples, who will also be entrusted as image-bearers with a ministry-of-reconciliation."


Sinful man

made in God's likeness

creates havoc 

with other image-bearers...

Why?

The same old reason:  SIN.

Sinful man needs something, and he doesn't know what that need is...

So, he takes it out on others...

Followers of Jesus, we have the answer for their need...

We have the answer for the UNREST....

...and, the Lord has authorized us to be His messengers...

...to live as He would on earth, appealing others, imploring them to be reconciled...

...and to live reconciled...

with God

with mankind

to one-another one-another...

Essentially we've been reconciled 
in order to reconcile....

What's the answer to reconciliation?

Me!


It begins with me...

and, honestly, it ends with me...

Have I taken my role as an ambassador, as a minister-of-reconciliation seriously....

There is one basic answer:

THE GOSPEL OF JESUS

AND THOSE WHO RECEIVE IT

LIVING IT


If there is a problem with 

unrest

reconciliation

fighting

greed....

Maybe,

just maybe,

followers of Jesus

need to step into their role

as ambassadors

living as THE RECONCILED.




Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Do Not Be Discouraged...Do Not Lose Heart...A WORD FOR THESE DAYS!


"Do not be discouraged..."

These were God-Words to Joshua when Moses died.

These were God-Words to the Israelites through Isaiah.


They were God-Words to the masses on a hillside through God's Son.


They were His Words to a young man named Timothy through the Apostle Paul...then passed on to us through the Apostle Peter...and, even the-disciple-Jesus-loved, John, spoke them...

Lord knows all, and He knew the men He chose to be Kingdom-leaders would need these four crucial words: DO NOT LOSE HEART!


God's sheep, His people, have a propensity toward

hard-heartedness

stubbornness

rebellion

idolatry

They are known to be

lovers of pleasure

lovers of self

lovers of money

argumentative

unappeasable

ungrateful

proud

abusive

arrogant

reckless.

Oh, they may have the appearance of godliness,

BUT

they abnegate the power of faith.

They may be life-long-learners seeking TRUTH,

BUT

they never arrive at KNOWLEDGE.*

"Do not be discouraged."

Don't let your mind become divided.

Hold fast to what you have!

Remember the faith into which you came to salvation.

Fan into flame the spiritual gift placed within you.

Guard the good deposit of the WORD OF GOD taught to you...

...meditate on it DAY AND NIGHT...

...it has been God-breathed...

...and is profitable for equipping for EVERY GOOD WORK.



"Do not be discouraged."

The time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound teaching.

They will wander off into myths, and interesting fables...lies wrapped in pretty packages, tied with colorful, glittery bows.


BUT YOU

pursue righteousness

stick to the sacred writings

be set apart for honorable use....

for you are holy...God's chosen, peculiar people.


Do not be quarrelsome...

Ignore ignorant controversies....


rather teach with gentleness and patience...

be kind to all...

and maybe some will be led to repentance and a sincere knowledge of the truth...

escaping the snare of the enemy.

"Do not be discouraged."



*2 Timothy 3:1-5


Thursday, June 25, 2020

Are There Truth-Tellers in America?


I've been immersed in Old Testament stories of late...

...and one of the stories I read recently has caused me pause.

Ahab (along with his better known wife, Jezebel), one of Israel's most evil kings has passed away, and a new king has come to the throne, Ahaziah.


Sadly, as the king did, so went the country...

...and, Ahaziah represented God's people.

Even knowing what's going to happen, I am glad Ahab is out of the picture, and find myself hoping for Israel's sake that this is a fresh start for the country...and, most of all, a return to the Lord.


(Side note: No doubt, this is because I so wish for that opportunity for our country, as well...I pray daily for a return to the Lord who shed His grace on this land so many years ago...)

One has to wonder what precipitated this event, but all we know is that Ahaziah fell through the lattice of his upper chamber window, and was gravely ill.

As he lay upon his bed, Ahaziah began to wonder what the prognosis for his condition might be, and he called for messengers to come to his bedchamber.

Their job was to go to Baal-zebub (the Lord of the Flies, a Philistine God, who was worshipped at the city of Ekron).

Now, why this idol? Interestingly enough, flies were thought to cause sickness, and so by going to the god who was built for the sole purpose of expelling flies, perhaps Ahaziah hoped to appease Baal-zebub enough that this god would exert special power over his disease, bringing a cure.


But...Israel had a more powerful God.

Israel's God is Yahweh.

The I AM....who can do all things...
The I AM....who is all we need!

They say it every morning...

They repeat it every evening...

"Hear, O Israel, Adonai is our God. Adonai is One... And you shall love the Lord, Your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might...."
Deut 6:4

However, Israel, under Ahab had started down a path of unbelief.

Ahaziah picked up right where Ahab ended his journey.

Enter Elijah, the prophet.


A wild hairy man, who lived in the wilderness, and caused no small measure of antagonism to the kings of Israel.

The Lord told Elijah to meet the messengers on the road to Ekron with this message:

‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron? Now therefore thus says the Lord, You shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die.’

That was it. 

Elijah spoke the message of truth...and, walked away....


Ahaziah's messengers were shell shocked.

They just let him go.

Elijah's words were in no way a pleasant message to take back to the king.

(I can only imagine the fear of the messengers as they headed back to the King Ahaziah. Others were killed for less unfavorable words...)

However, Elijah's message was not his, but God's, and when a prophet got a Word from the Lord, they couldn't keep from speaking. 


Good or bad...the words rushed forth with power and confidence. 

Have you forgotten you have a GOD...

Have you forgotten His name?

Do you not remember WHO HE IS? WHAT HE HAS DONE FOR YOU? 

Don't you remember your covenant with Him...

Obviously, not...and because you haven't.....

DESTRUCTION.

Ahaziah sealed his death...and, by default, Israel's forced exile into Assyria. 

We live in a new era.

We are under a new covenant. 

But, I wonder...where are the prophets?

Wanted:
VOICES of TRUTH
Modern-day-Elijahs


Not fortune tellers; but, those God raises up to remind us with strong words about the path we are headed down if we don't return to the Lord?


I've heard a few voices.

I'm beyond grateful for them! 

Yet, the world needs more Elijah's.

Men who grab our attention with truth.

Men who remind us of God's power and might.

Men who point us to the cross...and the covenant of love that God the Father broke with us through the breaking of His son.

Men compelled to pass on to future generations the WORD OF THE LORD.

Men (& women, I'm not leaving them out) who pass on a passion of belief.


Not men and women who give us a political agenda.

Not men and women who say what the popular belief system is...or jump on the most recent band wagon that reacts out of strong emotion, but responds cautiously out of listening, learning, leading, and loving....

THE WORLD needs men and women of passion, willing to stand alone, if alone means they speak TRUTH...

If not...

I fear for what could be.


Raise up voices of truth, Lord... And, give Your people, courage....
Amen!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

There are! SO! MANY! VOICES!


Some mornings I wake up and realize, "Oh! It's a blog day!" And, I'm a bit surprised that it has already rolled around...

I'm not a slave to publishing (as in, I don't think I have to just because it's a Tuesday or a Thursday), but it has been my goal to be consistent, when possible.

It has also been my goal to only write when I feel like the Lord has impressed something on me.

And, so it is this morning...it's a blog day...and the impression from the Lord over the last, oh, so many days, is brief.

It won't take me long to share this random thought...or, you long to read it.


Last Thursday, a former co-worker stopped through with his precious family, on their way to vacation elsewhere in Colorado. We talked about recent events, and I wondered how they would address some of these issues, one day, within their multi-ethnic family. Are there mentors available, who have walked the journey ahead of them, who can advise? Did the adoption agency recommend resources that might help them navigate the discussions that will be sure to come as their children age? 

We discussed a few books we'd both read, and found helpful... I offered one that I'd read, which might inform some more... And, they shared an EXCELLENT, 54-minute, You Tube message (from one year ago!), which Bay and I watched on Sunday (I posted the link on Facebook, but will also post it here: Racial Reconciliation, with Voddie Baucham).

But the one piece of the conversation that jumped out at me were these words: "There are just SO MANY VOICES out there, we want to make sure we're listening to the best and the wisest. We don't have time to sift through them all. Therefore, we are being cautious and careful... (emphasis mine)"

THERE ARE! SO! MANY! VOICES!

True that!

Every morning, as I quickly peruse social media, a few news outlets, and look at a few You Tube videos from channels I subscribe to, I am realizing how true.

Every one wants a voice.

So many consider themselves experts.

Too many want to be heard and DEEMED RIGHT (and, here I am being just one more voice clamoring amidst the masses)...

Dr. Baucham had so many good things to say, but oh, how my heart soared to hear him say this: "Today, it seems we are developing a new hermeneutic. A new canon is emerging. We say read 'this book and you will understand better'... Somehow, we've let sociology and psychology dictate our theology. But the Bible is not just inherent, it is sufficient in faith and practice... We look FIRST to its text."


Yes! Let Scripture inform our sociology.  Please, allow it to inform our psychology! Obviously, it better be the basis of our theology! 

As followers of Jesus, His word is not antiquated.


THE WORD OF GOD STANDS TIMELESS! 

And there, in the midst of that Holy Love Letter, is the direction we need for living life...

For crossing ethnic barriers...

For living in the achieved reconciliation purchased for ALL of the human race (one race!) on Calvary...


As I pondered the words my friends spoke, and listened to the message I just mentioned, I was reminded of the words of one of God's prophets, which I read several weeks ago...  This lesser known prophet named, Micaiah, called to advise Ahab, is told that all the King's advisors have spoken favorably to the King; but, brave Micaiah makes this statement:

"As the Lord lives, I will only say whatever the Lord says to me..."
1 Kings 22:14 


Oh that, in these days, we are careful to only speak that which the Lord speaks, not putting words in His mouth... And, may the opposite be true as well, that we only seek to listen, and respond to, that which the Lord's voice would first say to us, as He informs us how to live as He desires...according to His good and perfect will.


And, by we....I most definitely mean, me!!!!!!

Thursday, June 18, 2020

We All Need a Time Out (from time to time)


Two nights ago, Bay and I went for an evening horseback ride with friends in the National Forest behind our house.

For some reason, my sweet Tali, decided to be a real pain in the neck.

She stubbornly kept trying to eat oak brush as we wandered through it.

She lagged behind and wouldn't keep up with the others, no matter how much "encouragement" I gave to her.

She didn't pay attention well, and stumbled, time after time after time...

Of course, the more she acted up, the more frustrated I got with her.

By the time we got back home, there was no way under God's green earth, she was getting a treat for being a good girl (and, she has pretty much come to expect it)...

In fact, I almost didn't take the time to brush her...


If I could have exiled her in a "time out" with her nose pressed to a wall, I would have done so...

As I'm reading through the Old Testament (almost through 2 Chronicles), I found myself relating to the Lord's frustration at the stubbornness of the Israelites.

I totally found myself in His corner cheering Him on as He sent His children into exile...

“I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people,
Who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts,
A people who continually provoke Me to My face,
Isaiah 65:2-3a

Until...I heard His gentle whisper to me in the middle of the night:  "Examine yourself..."

He's just so gentle, in His pursuing of me...

It wasn't a scolding.

Not a reprimand.

Just a request.


A simple ask..."Take a look inside."

Oh, sigh.

There is within me, now and again, just like Tali...just like the Israelites...a rebellious spirit.


I want what I want...when I want it...my way.

I fight against my bit...

I sulk in the back of the line...

I don't want to do or go with the flow of those in front of me...

My heart is sullen.

If God doesn't come through for me immediately, I look to other gods to make it happen...

As I sensed the Lord's wooing, His longing for me to just submit, so we can "enjoy the ride," I felt my eyes get a bit watery.

How sad I am over my own Tali-like-behavior!


I deserved exile...with my nose pressed up against a corner of a wall...

...Instead the Lord offered me outstretched, nail-pierced-hands, and reminded me, all was well between us.

Jesus secured my forgiveness.

The cross was my acceptance.

It was my new identity.

Because of the cross JUSTICE REIGNS SUPREME!

By virtue of the cross, I've been given a life of purpose, spiritual gifts which bring me great joy, and a home being built for me in eternity (have I mentioned that I've put in my "wish list" - I have - a little one room cabin, with a wrap around porch, on one side an ocean view, on another the Arizona desert, on another the mountains with a peaceful lake view, and the fourth...just a field of wild-flowers-minus-bugs)...


The cross has put me on level ground with all humanity - for all of us have sinned and fallen short of God's glory.

We've all missed the mark...

I'm no better, no different, no worse, than any one else who walks this planet...

...BUT JESUS...we, who deserved death, have an incredible Savior-Redeemer.


As I was finally drifting back to sleep, the words to an old hymn I'd sung as part of a group I'd been involved with in high school came back to me.

I remember singing it then (wow, even before I knew the Lord), and each time meant the words as a prayer. Now that I've been to the cross, it changes everything!


Today, knowing Him...

Comprehending the Cross...

These words mean so much more!

Jesus keep me near the cross
There a precious fountain
Free to all a healing stream 
(Don't we NEED A HEALING STREAM in our world...there it is!)
Flows from Calvary's mountain

In the cross, in the cross
Be my glory (my reflection of the Savior) ever
Til my raptured soul shall find
REST beyond the river...**

Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and Mercy found me;
There the bright and morning star
Sheds its beams around me!

Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day
With its shadows o'er me!

Near the cross I'll watch and wait
Hoping, trusting ever,
Til I reach the golden strand,
Just beyond the river...

I drifted off to sleep praying this hymn, with a longing that I will ever stand below, in the shadow of the cross...reminded of Love and Mercy...
Reminded of my call to walk as Jesus walked...
Reminded of all that is mine IN HIM...
Of all the hope I have to look forward to...

Then, to offer this hope to others...



If I don't realize first that I am a problem and run to the cross...I will never have an opportunity to talk about the real answer.

And, standing in the shadow of the cross (picking up my cross and carrying it), I'm reminded how to live...

With justice...
With mercy...
With kindness and humility...
Just as Jesus did!


Jesus is still, not an answer, THE ANSWER!




P.S. The next morning we took Tali out again on a new ride, after she'd had time to "think over" her behavior (& maybe the training bit helped). She was a perfect angel, but we enjoyed the ride as it was intended to be... 

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Let's "Do the Work" that We Might Be Unashamed...


Some years have gone by....

Enough years now, that time's soothing balm worked her magic.

Still, I carry in my soul, memories of the hard of the situation....

It happened at a turbulent time in the life of our family...

A roller coaster of highs and lows of emotional ebbing...

A time when there was just a lot going on in individual family's lives -

Trials, difficulties, and painful situations aplenty...

I could tell my heart almost couldn't handle one-more-thing.

And, then......one-more-thing.

Surprisingly, that one-more-thing caused more pain in my spirit than any of the other things that were happening around me: as a family we weren't on the same page. 


We weren't unified on the home-front.

There were diversities of opinion.

Division of thought.

Strong-minded points of view.

Did we still love one another?

Of course!

We are family...and family matters.

We just weren't seeing eye-to-eye...

As a mom, and as a mom who ranks high on personality profile testing in the area of HARMONY, well, you can see the problem, right?

I needed this fixed...and I needed it fixed RIGHT NOW!

Yet, easy fixes weren't quick to the rescue.


The differences needed identifying.

They required research - particularly, theologically, before we could fix them relationally.

They required prayerful hearts -

Ultimately, the fix needed a deep understanding of the problem and a willingness to accept, adapt, and apply wisdom and love above the need to be right.

The memory of these weeks (or, were they months?) came swirling around me this morning as I was praying for the healing of our nation, for the church to take advantage of a rare season to be good-news-givers, to be of one mind and one heart, so that the seeds of the gospel might be scattered, take root, and grow...

I have a tendency to put the hard behind me and move on with life once the dust has settled, so, the fact that I thought of this at all, seemed significant.

And, I wondered...once again, about the Father as He is looking at His children.

Does He weep over the divisiveness?

Does He long for His kids to get on the same page?

As Jesus sits interceding at the right hand of the throne of God is He praying we find the commonality for which we can all gather around and work together?

Is He trying to get our attention that we might identify, educate, pray, and then apply that knowledge in the form of wisdom-in-action?

I guarantee it!

This is our starting place:

Identify where the problems are around us...
(Today I heard of a young man who works at our local Walmart being racially harassed by customers...and, no one speaks up for him. What a simple thing to do to make it a point, to encourage everyone around us with words of kindness...it's not hard to say, "thanks for all you do to serve us here..." And, maybe, just maybe our KIND words can be louder than the words of those with evil hearts.)

Educate. Educate. Educate.
(May I be a bit bold? I don't need the opinions of others...there are too many voices trying to push their agendas. The spin is ridiculous. It's confusing! So, where do I need to begin? By going to the Words of Truth found in the Word of Hope. What does our Father tell us? THESE ARE THE WORDS TO LIVE BY!!! We need good solid theological teaching before we can fix things relationally....)



Pray.
(I'm asking the Father to show me if I'm off base. I am human. I do not have all the answers. But, I know if I ask with a hungry heart, He will answer that prayer --- He delights in hearing and in answering our prayers. I want Him to be my counselor, my teacher, rebuker, corrector, and TRAINER IN RIGHTEOUSNESS; and, I want Him to show me my role in the fix.)


Look for ways to apply the learning.
(The needs are everywhere. There are marginalized folks EVERYWHERE: the Native American that live all around me, the unborn who are being led to the slaughter on a daily basis - even in my community, victims of spousal and child abuse, young women and men kidnapped to sell into sex-slavery, our black brothers and sisters, AND...are you aware that the most marginalized of all people groups around the world are Jesus-Followers?)... How can we speak up for those who are being oppressed? I don't want to just simply be a rescuer, or send money to some organization I have no clue about. My desire is to be instrumental in helping the marginalized onto a path that leads them to LIFE...


More importantly, as I listened to a message by Alistair Begg this week, I was reminded:

America needs the GOSPEL of GRACE. 


The time is ripe for some GOOD NEWS.

Loosen your tongue.
Open your mouth.
Speak the words that bring LIfE.

If we keep the main thing the main thing (the gospel)...all of a sudden, we will find ourselves drifting toward UNITY...

...and the Father may be able to wipe away the tears He sheds over the divisiveness of His children. 


...and, then, let's do the work needed, especially that of fanning into flame the unique spiritual gifts God instilled in us, that we might stand before the Lord as UNASHAMED workmen who are attractive to the LOST around us!