I love deep conversations. Discussions of theology, justice, mission, and the intersection of those three could occupy a lot of time!
The best, though, are the what-God-is-presently-doing in life conversations. Honestly, I don’t have these conversations enough. They usually require time as well as intention; they don’t usually “just happen” in my life these days. I wish they did, and with more attention they probably could.
Maybe my favorite part about these conversations is what lingers in their wake: gratitude, conviction, encouragement, understanding, and a fresh reminder of the need to pray. These are conversations that bring about change.
So even when the curry is spicier than I wanted and traffic is bad, the fellowship of believers is a precious thing!
“God stands tall and makes things right; He saves all the wretched on earth.”
500 packets for the homeless in 20 minutes, that is. Call it teamwork, call it an assembly line, call it enthusiasm…
…or call it people loving people ’cause Jesus loved them first. Take a look:
the lyrics to Keith and Kristen Getty’s song are worth consideration.
The perspective I gain from remembering God’s character and plan (in the face of my own weakness/when I mistakenly think I’ve got it all together/when the brokenness of the world seems overwhelming) is always needed. These verses, in particular, remind me that He is good, and He will put all things to rights.
I turn to wisdom not my own
For every battle You have known.
My confidence will rest in You;
Your love endures; Your ways are good.
Your love endures; Your ways are good.
One day all things will be made new;
I’ll see the hope You called me to,
And in Your kingdom, paved with gold,
I’ll praise Your faithfulness of old;
I’ll praise Your faithfulness of old.
As I finish reading through Deuteronomy, today is the day for chapter 32, aka the Song of Moses. I’ve long thought that the Song of Moses was cool- a nice poetic break from the lists of rules and census figures. What I missed, somehow, is the insurance aspect of the song.
Check it out. God says,
When…they begin fooling around with other gods…then things start falling apart…
…this song will be there with them as a witness to who they are and what went wrong.
Um, yeah. My paraphrase of that is “I’m setting you up to remember Me when you get yourselves into major trouble. When you see no way out, I’ll already have you set up to come back to Me.”
Over and over again, Moses gives the people of God the “choices and voices” talk about listening to God’s Word and making the choice to obey. This is at the end of 40 years of discipline in the dessert and right after a couple major victories. God knew they would fail- they would not be faithful to the covenant they made with Him- and yet they were His people.
It’s love beyond what I could offer. It’s love and mercy I need!
Let’s clarify- perfection is impossible; reflection is welcome; redemption is needed.
When I look back on the last few weeks, the lessons that God has taught stand as stones. The temptation is to believe that they mark only the past when, really, they are the truths that must be willfully recalled on a regular basis. Truths like:
-Jesus never intended for our burdens to be heavy and miserable.
-Brokenness is undeniable; wholeness is possible.
-Timeouts are for grown-ups, too.
-Jesus must be enough, period, or He’s not enough at all.
-God is really, amazingly good, no matter what. He knows, He sees, and He cares.
I read an interesting post about the characteristics of highly evangelistic churches and one huge factor that makes them so: having one or more highly evangelistic Christians. I read the characteristics of these people who passionately and regularly share the good news of Jesus with others, a faithful man in my own church came to mind quickly. He embodies these life patterns (and the others in the post, as well):
1. They are people of prayer. They realize that only God can convict and convert, and they are totally dependent upon Him in prayer. Most of the highly evangelistic Christians spend at least an hour in prayer each day.
2. They have a theology that compels them to evangelize. They believe in the urgency of the gospel message. They believe that Christ is the only way of salvation. They believe that anyone without Christ is doomed for a literal hell.
6. They are intentional about evangelism. They pray for opportunities to share the gospel. They look for those opportunities. And they see many so-called casual encounters as appointments set by God.
As I read on, I was challenged to develop the same attitudes and habits for the glory of God’s kingdom and the fame of His name.
Just: a favorite prayer word for Christians: “We just thank you, Lord, because You just do so much for us, and we just love You, and would you just…”
But I wonder…does God ever “just” do anything? Just has several uses and meanings; in this case, I’m using the meaning “simply,” implying that like Nike says, you do it without waiting, fearing failure, or making elaborate plans.
Last night, I considered Passover, the crucifixion, and the way God revealed Himself as Redeemer in both events. I considered my own life and the way God reveals Himself in the lessons I learn and the opportunities to pass those lessons on. I considered prophecies that have multiple fulfillments, both immediate and far-off.
I don’t think He just does anything. He multiplies good out of bad and makes much of every chance to show Himself. In turn, I am excited to see what He’ll do next…it’s sure to be much more than expected.
To hunger for God and not eat is better than to not hunger…
…God must be really great, ’cause He’s the one food that to even be hungry for is nourishing.
What must it be to actually get Him?
-Dr. Timothy Keller
The more I long for Him, the more I pursue Him, and the more I pursue Him, the more I long for Him. It’s the best life cycle I’ve found.
Leviticus is good reading. Really. It generally falls into the “something that pastors should probably read and everyone else can skip” or the book whose reputation of out-dated rules goes before it and prevents its reading. I would argue, though, that this book, like every other in the Bible, has something we need. (I do wear cotton blends, so I’m not saying every commandment is for us to follow to the letter today.)
Thankfully, my Bible reading plan has brought me back to it again, and I am grateful. Today, I read chapter 23, in which God commands no work during the Day of Atonement six times in the six verses of instruction. He’s serious about it, too. The consequence for working on the Day of Atonement is death. Yep- you work, you die.
As I thought about this, the foreshadowing became clearer and stronger. Of course God prohibited work on the Day of Atonement! Atonement has been made for us now through no amazing work of our own but by the work of Jesus on the cross.
Trouble comes when we thing that we can work for our own atonement. The consequence of sin is death. The only way to get around the consequence is to accept the atonement made by Jesus. When any of us tries to work for what has been freely given, we risk believing that we could save ourselves, muddying the beauty of the truth, and missing the whole point.
So simple, yet so easy to forget. So I endeavor to preach the gospel to myself daily, remembering that He did the work for me.
Listen to Sara Groves’ song, “You Did That for Me.”
You wore the chains so I could be free .
You did that for me.