Category Archives: General

Sacred Pathways

Hosea pursued by the LordThe prophet Hosea used some strong language to make his point to his fellow countryman.  Hosea not only shared the Lord’s message, but he felt it.  He felt what spiritual adultery was like based on the human adultery he was experiencing with his wife.

The word ‘acknowledge’ is translated in the NIV for the Hebrew word yadah.  Acknowledge is found six times in the early parts of the book.  Yadah is more than a head nod to someone as they are passed on the sidewalk at the mall.  Yadah is knowing in a much more intimate, personal way.  More than a head nod, it is real interaction and real knowing.

In Hosea 6 yadah is found three times in close proximity.   Verse three is quite commanding in nature, “Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him.”   Then in verse six, “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.”

You see, it is all about relationship with Father- –   not the trappings of religious worship that dumb down the original purpose of those religious rites.  They usually start with good intention and focus on the Lord, but without the why, they result in lifeless duty.

I don’t want lifeless duty.  I want life in the Lord.  I want a life filled and a life fulfilled.  I want all I can be for a Heavenly Father who loves us and wants the absolute best for us.  I want to know Him and know how I was made to worship Him.

This past Sunday to further press into knowing how we best can know Him and know how to worship Him fully, we explored, ever so briefly, the Sacred Pathways idea by Gary Thomas.  We took an abbreviated assessment to further propel us into knowing how to best connect with the Lord.  We followed with some Small Group time to talk about some of the ideas and used some questions to prompt healthy, life-giving discussion.

If you are interested in doing the survey yourself, (which is highly recommended for growth in Jesus), it and other information can be found here.  Find May 5, 2013 and open the documents.  The Powerpoint presentation has all sorts of information about each pathway.

Also this link has a really good PDF on knowing more about your particular pathway to connecting with the Lord.

Shalom.

‘The Long Silence’

billions before the throneAt the end of time, billions of people were scattered on a great plain before God’s throne.

Most shrank back from the brilliant light before them.  But some groups near the front talked heatedly – - not with cringing shame, but with belligerence.

 

‘Can God judge us?  How can he know about suffering?’ snapped a pert young brunette.  She ripped open a sleeve to reveal a tattooed number from a Nazi concentration camp.  ’We endured terror… beatings… torture… death!’

In another group a Black man lowered his collar.  ’What about this?’ he demanded, showing an ugly rope burn. ‘Lynched…for no crime but being black!’

In another crowd, a pregnant schoolgirl with sullen eyes. ‘Why should I suffer’ she murmured, ‘It wasn’t my fault.’

Far out across the plain there were hundreds of such groups.  Each had a complaint against God for the evil and suffering he permitted in his world. How lucky God was to live in heaven where all was to live in Heaven where all was sweetness and light, where there was no weeping or fear, no hunger or hatred.  What did God know of all that man had been forced to endure in their world?  For God leads a pretty sheltered life, they said.

So each of these groups sent forth their leader, chosen because he had suffered the most.  A Jew, a Black man, a person from Hiroshima, a horribly deformed arthritic, a thalidomide child.  In the centre of the plain whey consulted with each other.  At last they were ready to present their case. It was rather clever.

Before God could be qualified to be their judge, he must endure what they had endured.  Their decision was that God should be sentenced to live on earth – - as a man!

‘Let him be born a Jew.  Let the legitimacey of his birth be doubted.  Give him a work so difficult that even his family will think him out of his mind when he tries to do it. Let him be betrayed by his closest friends. Let him face false charges, be tried by a prejudiced jury and convicted by a cowardly judge. Let him be tortured.

‘At the last, let him see what it means to be terribly alone.  Then let him die. Let him die so that there can be no doubt that he died. Let there be a great host of witnesses to verify it.’

As each leader announced his portion of the sentence, loud murmurs of approval went up from the throng of people assembled.

And when the last had finished pronouncing sentence, there was a long silence. No-one uttered another word.  No-one moved. For suddenly all knew that God had already served his sentence.

Selah.

The issue of evil and suffering here on earth has puzzled humanity in every millenia of our existence.  As early as Job, with the Epicurean Paradox, and as recently as CS Lewis- questions, discussions and solutions abound, even confound. The brutal death of Jesus provides the basis and resolution for such discussion.  

The playlet above is found in a fabulous section on ‘suffering and glory’ in a lengthy classic by John R. W. Stott entitled “The Cross of Christ” an InterVarsity Press publication 1986.

Help me to cling to the Cross

steel cross through raindropsHelp me to cling to the cross,
be crucified to the world by it,
and in it find deepest humiliation,
motives to patience and self-denial,
grace for active benevolence,
faith to grasp eternal life,
hope to lift up my head,
love to bind me for ever
to him who died and rose for me.

May Christ’s shed blood make me
more thankful for your mercies,
more humble under your correction,
more zealous in your service,
more watchful against temptation,
more contented in my circumstances,
more useful to others.

Puritan prayer

The Promises We Make

In thinking about the promises we make, the movie “Hook” came to mind.   It is a wonderful film about Peter Pan, Hook, and Tink starring Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, and Julia Roberts respectively.  There are many life and spiritual lessons within for any family who would like to use it as a platform for great discussion.

promisesOne of the issues embedded in the film is the busy life of Peter Banning and his dysfunctional relationship with his son, Jack.  In an attempt to juggle work and family, Peter makes empty promises to his son.  The tragedy occurs when, due to the Jack’s awareness that his father’s words are empty, Jack’s affections wander towards someone outside his family. Jack begins to trust someone other than his father.  In this case, he begins to trust in Captain Hook, regardless of who he was.

Jack gravitated towards someone who showed true interest in him, not for what he could do, but for who he was.  Captain Hook is a swarmy character antithetical of a father figure, however, did portray the quality of speaking truthfully to Jack.

In doing life as many years as I have, it is so much easier to work with people who keep their promise.  Those who are more thoughtful about their words and the vows they make.  If I enjoy working with people who possess this quality, then I have to believe that others do too.  So I want to work really hard at thoughtful promise making and then promise keeping.

Jesus encouraged us to let our yes be yes and our no be no.  Maybe it was more than an encouragement, maybe it is an significant element to a life of integrity.

Let’s be conscious of the promises we make.

God- big, man- not.

universe

“The universe, they say, is so vast, it makes man utterly insignificant. Why would God have bothered to create such a microscopic speck called the earth and humanity and then get involved with us? Beneath this question is a fundamental failure to see what the universe is about. It is about the greatness of God, not the significance of man. God made man small and the universe big to say something about himself. And he says it for us to learn and enjoy—namely, that he is infinitely great and powerful and wise and beautiful. The more the Hubble Telescope sends back to us about the unfathomable depths of space, the more we should stand in awe of God. The disproportion between us and the universe is a parable about the disproportion between us and God. And it is an understatement.”   John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life34.