Loving God


He was still a young man living in Ur when God called him.  “Leave your home and go to the place that I will show you.”  That’s what God said.  “Leave, go, I’ll show.”  Leaving is harder than it sounds.  Going is the easy part.  Where He’ll show…that’s a horse of a different color!

Leaving meant saying, “See ya’!” to all that Abram and his family knew.  No more will we visit.  No more hanging out at the local inn for mead.  No more games of paleo-soccer at in the fields.  No more long talks with Dad.  No more eating Aunt Ruth’s fig pies.  No more Ur.  Back then, there wasn’t e-mail, there wasn’t even MAIL.  Alexander was not yet great (or even born) and Rome was a two-horse town in Italy that you didn’t even notice when you passed through!

Leave it all!  Your comfort, your security!  Your friends and family!  Your familiar streets!  Your home!  Leave it all.  Just go!  Go west, young Abram!  Go, and I’ll show!

I’m sure going wasn’t too bad.  After all, travel provided a distraction from the emotional pain of leaving home.  As Kris Kringle taught the evil Snow Wizard, “You just put one foot in front of the other.”  Make sure that the sheep and cattle are coming.  Ensure that the servants haven’t quit or gotten lost.  Where is that darn nephew!  No, honey, I’m sure this is the way, that wasn’t our exit.  Well you should have thought of that before we left Ur.  Normal travel isn’t too arduous these days.  In Abram’s day, it was a chore.  But, it was still probably the easiest of the three steps!

“I’ll show,” God said.  I wonder if Abram was like Bart Simpson, “Are we there yet!?!  Are we there yet!?!  Are we there yet!?!  Are we there yet!?!   Are we there yet!?!   Are we there yet!?!  Are we there yet!?!  Are we there yet!?! Ad nauseum!”  Or was he more like the Sprint guy, “Is it here, now?  Good!  Is it here, now?  Good!” with sarcastic relish!  Every step forward is a mystery!  Every step forward is an adventure.  WHERE AM I GOING!  HOW WILL I KNOW WHEN I ARRIVE!?!

I’m moving to Oklahoma City.  I know more than Abram knew.  Leaving is easier than it was for him, as for me it is not family that I will never see again nor ever speak to, but rather it is friends with whom I’ll have e-mail and phone contact (and occasional visits!). 

Going is easier for me, too.  I’ve got a truck, no servants or livestock, and I know the way already.

The where is a little easier, too.  I know it’ll be around OKC.  Not sure where, but somewhere around the city.

But, easier does not necessarily equate to easy.  I’m scared.  I’m confused.  I’m borderline depressed! (OK, I’m south of the border, take that as you wish!)  So, I rely on God as Abram did.  I trust in Him as Abram did.  And I ask Him, “Here?!?” as Abram did.  I’ve taught how overwhelming that must have been before, but to get a taste of it myself… well, its more overwhelming than I realized!

God, I know you’re directing this.  I know things will come together for me.  I trust you.  Please, don’t keep me in suspense any longer!  Is it here?!?

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A pastor with a large and growing ministry came to town to share the Gospel. During the visit, this pastor was invited by a prominent local pastor to have dinner.

This is not an uncommon scenario, and we don’t often stop to wonder about it, but I would like to know one thing: “Why?” Why did the local pastor want to eat with the traveling pastor? Was he truly interested in the message the traveler brought? Was he trying to schmooze the traveler for future favors? Was he trying to improve his position in the local area by being associated with this great pastor?

When the Pharisee invited Jesus to dinner, he showed little interest in being a good host. There is no indication that Jesus was the “guest of honor” other than our tendency as Christians to think that Jesus must be honored. Jesus Himself says the man provided none of the usual courtesies that one expects of a gracious host.

The true question is this: when Jesus stood at the door to your heart and knocked, and you let Him in, what kind of host were you? What kind of host are you?

Sometimes your life may feel like you are alone on a desert island.  Like Tom Hanks in “Cast Away”, you may find that survival has become a question instead of a given.  You may crave companionship.  You might just want some basic creature comforts.  In those times when you are feeling alone, you might even want to cry out like David and Jesus, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!?!”

But when you are feeling alone, take some time to reflect on your conversations with God.  Are you still regularly communicating?  If not, how long has it been since you “called Daddy?”  How long has it been since you spoke to your Heavenly Father, sharing your joys, your woes, your struggles?  Often, you’ll find that starting up talks with God will draw you closer to Him.

But what about those times when you are still crying out?  What about those times when you pray without ceasing, and yet you cannot find God anywhere in your life?  At those times, you must follow some simple advice that I once received in the Army: “Shut up and listen!”  When you keep telling God what your doing for Him, you cannot hear what He wants you to do.  When you are so busy talking, you’ve stopped listening; and when you’re not listening to God, it’s easy to go adrift in life.

So, throw that old volleyball away (Wilson never was good conversation anyway), and start talking to the One Who wants to hear about your pain and joy.  Listen to what God has to say, and you’ll find yourself no longer “Cast Away”, but caught up in His love.

How do you view the “Holy Bible”? Do you see it as a book of fables and myths that give us direction through pithy anecdotes? Or, do you see it as a book of rules and regulations, definitions of character and morality?

Our society tries to force us into one view or the other. Liberal theologians will tell you that real miracles are the changes of heart and character, and that stories that appear to defy the laws of nature are fanciful tales. While they appreciate the beauty of the words, they disregard large portions of the Bible because it’s a group of “either unbelievable miracles or a land of make-believe. (Bishop John Shelby Spong in “The Sins of Scripture”).

Conservatives have a different habit. They look for eternal principles to apply to life. They see the Bible as a lawyer sees the state book of statutes. Conservatives dig through the Bible highlighting “thou shall”s and “thou shalt not”s. Ten CommandmentsThey are so focused on the words of scripture that they often miss the Word of scripture.

Perhaps we should find a different way to read Scripture. Perhaps, we should approach the Bible as God’s Word. Perhaps we should try to form a relationship with it; to be known by it as we come to know it. Like a young couple that is starting a relationship, perhaps we should seek to find not just the literal “truth” of the Bible, but also the exquisite beauty.

Today, don’t merely read your Bible, but start a relationship with it. Get to know the God Who’s Word it is. Your life will be enriched in more ways than you can know.

Each morning, after I take my daughter to school, I go to one of two restaurants in town and have breakfast. Breakfast of champions. Its a good time to fellowship with people, its a good time to prepare for the day, and its a good time to end my daily fast — you know, that time when sleep overtakes eating as the priority.  Breakfast even gets its name from the idea that you are “breaking your fast.”

Well, back in January, I started a blog fast.  I had no intention of letting it go for 3 months, but it has.  FINALLY, I’m ending my fast, and preparing to once again pontificate and philosophize about thinks Godly, theological, and just generally about living for Jesus.  To both my readers (if I have that many), I apologize for the absence, but now,

I’m BACK!!!

I’m still working my way through Colossians, and today I read the 2nd chapter in The Message Remix 2.0. In verses 8-10 it reads:

Colossians 2:8-10 (The Message)

8-10

Watch out for people who try to dazzle you with big words and intellectual double-talk. They want to drag you off into endless arguments that never amount to anything. They spread their ideas through the empty traditions of human beings and the empty superstitions of spirit beings. But that’s not the way of Christ. Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly. You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness
of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything.

Wow! I love that! “You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ.” Sometimes, I think we’re all like this guy:



Urban Cowboy: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

We’re looking for love in all the wrong places. Jesus isn’t hiding from us, whether you believe it or not, most often its us who are the ones hiding. Even back in Eden, God wasn’t the one in the fig bush.

Over at Jesus Creed there is a post about Trumanistic Christianity. The Philosophical Pastor retorts with a wonderful metaphor here. I think they are both hitting on a pulse in North America –we-re becoming theological ostriches! We’ve got our heads so far buried into our doctrinal bubbles that we’re missing Jesus! He’s everywhere there
is need. You don’t need to look far off to find Him! He’s just around the corner!

We spend so much time wrangling over what is and what is not “essential” to our Christian faith that we don’t see Jesus standing just beside us. We put the Bible under a microscope trying to find the Man at our shoulder! We’ve got to get our heads up and see Jesus!

I’m discovering that Paul’s admonition — “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” — applies to Christian theologians, too. I’m discovering that when someone has to really try hard to emphasize their point, when they go to great lengths to show that their view is the most “logical” interpretation of the Scriptures, they are often (even though usually
unaware of it) trying to take you captive.

The Bible needs to be read and studied. The Bible needs to be interpreted for our day and place. But if the interpretation is convoluted, or a logical equivalent to a dominoes puzzle, beware! Jesus not only SHOULDN’T be that hard to find, He AIN’T that hard to find.

Look around, you’ll find Him near you, by your side. You don’t need fancy tools or philosophy. You just need to want to see Him.

After my morning work-out (its still January, too early to quit on my resolution!), I read Colossians 1 in The Message Remix 2.0: The Bible In contemporary Language, I was struck by its take on verses 9-12. They read:

9-12Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not
the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.

Too often, in my obviously correct opinion :-), we get this picture of Christian endurance:

Grim determination!

When, if the Message translation is correct, we should thing of this:

Joyful endurance!

Ours is not a weight to bear, but a joy to serve. We don’t lift these weights alone, but with Christ, who strengthens us– allowing us to move mountains and endure ALL things! Ours is a joyful lifting, because God gives us a supernatural strength– when we let Him.

And that, in part, is what it means to love God. It means allowing Him to help. It means humbling ourselves and saying, “I can’t, but God can.” It means letting Him into areas of our lives that we normally keep Him out of. It means allowing His strength to be our strength, and our strength to be dedicated to serving Him.

So let’s lift joyfully! Let’s NOT grit our teeth but let’s laugh and say, with joy, “not my will, but Yours be done!” That, today, is my prayer for all of us.

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