Author Archives: Pastor Mark

Prayer for our Kids Day 8 – Mercy

mercy

“May my children always ‘be merciful, as [their] Father is merciful’” (Luke 6:36)

Mercy is a not a word I am very familiar with. I tend to get it confused with grace and I’ve honestly never taken much time to look into the meaning of it. So, I’ve spent a lot of time this morning on the Internet trying to gain a better understanding.

 

I was quite surprised to find zero Biblical references on Google. Instead I found a Kanye West song, Mercy Medical Clinics, a TV show and a college to name a few. So, I went on a search through the best resource, God’s Word. The word mercy is used over 126 times throughout the Bible (NIV). There are very similar themes from the Old to New Testament. I started reading through the references and although I don’t know what I was expecting, I was surprised by what I found. The majority of the verses throughout were people asking/begging for mercy or referencing how Father showed mercy. It seemed to be something, dare I say, unattainable for humans? It leads me to wonder if we, as sinners, are capable of true mercy… the kind that Christ shows us? In the end I am left excited to start a new journey. It’s time I delve into more Scripture and books in hopes of a better knowledge and understanding.

With that, I’m going to leave you with one my favorite verses that speak of mercy, Micah 6:8: ”He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Guest Post- Rachel Theobald

B90X Leviticus Explained

leviticus redrawnOne of the stubbornly enduring habits of the human race is to insist on domesticating God. We are determined to tame him. We figure out ways to harness God to our projects. We try to reduce God to a size that conveniently fits our plans and ambitions and tastes.

But our Scriptures are even more stubborn in telling us that we can’t do it. God cannot be fit into our plans, we must fit into his.  We can’t use God– God is not a tool or appliance or credit card.

“Holy” is the word that sets God apart and above our attempts to enlist him in our wish-fulfillment fantasies or our utopian schemes for making our mark in the world. Holy means that God is alive on God’s terms, alive in a way that exceeds our experience and imagination.  Holy refers to the life burning with an intense purity that transforms everything it touches into itself.

Because the core of all living is God, and God is a holy God, we require much teaching and long training for living in response to God as he is and not as we want him to be.  The book of Leviticus is a narrative pause in the story of our ancestors as they are on their way, saved out of Egypt, to settle in the land of Canaan.  It is a kind of extended time-out of instruction, a detailed and meticulous preparation for living ‘holy’ in a culture that doesn’t have the faintest idea what “holy” is. The moment these people enter Canaan they will be picking their way through a lethal minefield of gods and goddesses that are designed to appeal to our god-fantasies: “Give us what we want when we want it on our own terms.”  What these god-fantasies in fact do is cripple or kill us.  Leviticus is a start at the “much teaching and long training” that continues to be adapted and reworked in every country and culture where God is forming a saved people to live as he created them to live– holy as God is holy.

The first thing that strikes us as we read Leviticus in this light is that this holy God is actually present with us and virtually every detail of our lives is affected by the presence of this holy God; nothing in us, our relationships, or environment is left out. The second thing is that God provides a way (sacrifices and feasts and Sabbaths) to bring everything in and about us into his holy presence, transformed in the fiery blaze of the holy. It is an awesome thing to come into his presence, and we, like ancient Israel, stand in his presence at every moment (Psalm 139). Our Lord is not dwelling in a tent or house in our neighborhood. But he makes his habitation in us and among us as believers and says, “I am holy, you be holy” (1 Peter 1:16, citing Leviticus 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7).

Once we realize this, the seemingly endless details and instructions of Leviticus become sign posts of good news to us: God cares that much about the details of our lives, willing everything in and about us into transformation that St. Paul later commended:

So her’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life– your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking around life– and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you in the best thing you can do for him.  Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.  Instead, fix your attention on God.  You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you (Romans 12:1-2).

The above is the introduction to Leviticus in the Message Bible.  How often have I ridiculed and made jokes of the book.  Too many to count.  Instead it is one of Father’s most important bits of instruction on how to live life and He leaves no stone unturned.  Blessings as you plow through.

Day Seven of Praying for our Children

Prayer for our Kids Day 7 – Justicejustice

“God, help my children to love justice as You do and to ‘act justly’ in all they do” (Psalm 11:7; Micah 6:8).

Justice – something we all want, preach, encourage yet it is hard to live out. We live in a sinful world where white lies aren’t a big deal, where so many believe that it’s okay to rob from the rich to give to the poor. It’s more important to look out for yourself, even if it hurts others, right? Wrong. God is just and we are all called to act justly.

According to dictionary.com, justice is the quality of being just, rightfulness, lawfulness or righteousness. Those are all strong, powerful words. It’s easy to talk about them, much harder to live them out. They apply to every area of life. Living rightful or righteous affects each and every choice we make. How we talk and act, how we treat people, or talk about people (or maybe how we don’t talk about people).

When I start thinking about justice and what it looks like in my life and the importance of living justly I am so thankful for the gift and power of prayer. I am so thankful that justice isn’t something I am left to achieve on my own. Jesus came before us and died for our forgiveness. Through the Holy Spirit we have His presence in us, to help, and guide us. It is achievable through HIM.

Guest Post- Rachel Theobald

B90X- Why such disdain for Leviticus?

LeviticusEven some pastors I know have said if they have trouble falling asleep they break out Leviticus.

I’ll admit left to itself, without any understanding of context, it can lack capturing our attention.  Hollywood has so destroyed our ability to read literature any more.

 

Here is what must be known to read Leviticus:
*God is holy.
*God expects his people to be holy.
*God desire to live among his people but has high standards that must be maintained.
*God is serious about holiness.

Look at the word cloud above for the book of Leviticus.  What word and whose name appears more than any other in the book?  The Lord.  He is the most important thing in the whole book.  Not us and not our ideas.

Because God does have a pretty good idea about what it looks like to live with people in harmony.  That lack of harmony is sin.  Sin has consequences.  The cost of those consequences is high and time consuming.  Look at all they had to do to fix the error of their ways.

We have Jesus now.  Our sins are forgiven at the mere awareness of our sin by the Holy Spirit and confession of that sin to Father.  However, we still may have to deal with the consequences of our sin.  Many times our decisions and sins get us in a real pickle.  It destroys a whole bunch of stuff.  That is why the saying, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, cost you more than you are willing to pay, and keep you longer than you are willing to stay” reverberates in my memory.  Sin is ugly. Sin stinks.  Sin is messy.  God hates sin and so should we.

Leviticus contains information given to the Israelites while they were camped in the wilderness by Mount Sinai: instructions regarding management of sacred space (the tabernacle), sacred status (God’s people), and sacred time (in the festivals). These were considered important for maintaining holiness for God’s presence, which was at the center of their lives.  Sacred times must be identified, maintained by the priests, and observed.  Sacred space must be guarded and its holiness preserved.  The status of priests and people must be regulated by specific guidelines so they don’t desecrate God’s presence.  God is holy, and Israel is expected to be holy so his presence can remain in their midst.

Walton, Strauss, Cooper. The Essential Bible Companion. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006.

Day 6 – Love for God’s Word

GodsWord

31 Ways to Pray for your Children Day 6 – Love for God’s Word

“May my children grow to find your Word more precious than gold, than much pure gold, and sweeter than honey from a honeycomb” (Psalm 19:10).  What a great thing to pray for. How better to encourage our kids to grow in their love for Father than through his words. We are so blessed to not only have the written word but also live in a country where we can love it freely! It’s easy to take this freedom and gift for granted. Once again, I have to take a step back and evaluate my actions. Am I showing my kids how to love his word?  We have an amazing opportunity to raise a generation of kids that will be leaders. Let’s break any curses that have been spoken over past generations. Let’s make prayer a priority and believe that all things are possible through him who gives us strength (Phillipians 4:13). Our kids will be strong, they will be leaders, the will put Father first and they will love his word!

Guest post: Rachel Theobald