Wednesday, September 30, 2009

not done in vain

Read Ezekiel 14:12-23 this morning. . . .

Ezek. 14:12 Then the word of the LORD came to me saying,

Ezek. 14:13 “Son of man, if a country sins against Me by committing unfaithfulness, and I stretch out My hand against it, destroy its supply of bread, send famine against it and cut off from it both man and beast,

Ezek. 14:14 even though these three men, Noah, Daniel and Job were in its midst, by their own righteousness they could only deliver themselves,” declares the Lord GOD.

Ezek. 14:15 “If I were to cause wild beasts to pass through the land and they depopulated it, and it became desolate so that no one would pass through it because of the beasts,

Ezek. 14:16 though these three men were in its midst, as I live,” declares the Lord GOD, “they could not deliver either their sons or their daughters. They alone would be delivered, but the country would be desolate.

Ezek. 14:17 “Or if I should bring a sword on that country and say, ‘Let the sword pass through the country and cut off man and beast from it,’

Ezek. 14:18 even though these three men were in its midst, as I live,” declares the Lord GOD, “they could not deliver either their sons or their daughters, but they alone would be delivered.

Ezek. 14:19 “Or if I should send a plague against that country and pour out My wrath in blood on it to cut off man and beast from it,

Ezek. 14:20 even though Noah, Daniel and Job were in its midst, as I live,” declares the Lord GOD, “they could not deliver either their son or their daughter. They would deliver only themselves by their righteousness.”

Ezek. 14:21 ¶ For thus says the Lord GOD, “How much more when I send My four severe judgments against Jerusalem: sword, famine, wild beasts and plague to cut off man and beast from it!

Ezek. 14:22 “Yet, behold, survivors will be left in it who will be brought out, both sons and daughters. Behold, they are going to come forth to you and you will see their conduct and actions; then you will be comforted for the calamity which I have brought against Jerusalem for everything which I have brought upon it.

Ezek. 14:23 “Then they will comfort you when you see their conduct and actions, for you will know that I have not done in vain whatever I did to it,” declares the Lord GOD.
A few of my thoughts . . .
  • Who is this otherwise unmentioned Daniel of the ancient world in verse 14?

  • God stretches out His hand against nations. Famine, wild beasts, the sword (attacking nations) and plagues are all tools of His sovereign judgment.

  • The righteousness (faith) of a few cannot necessarily save a city though they will be saved through God's judgment. The Lord sees our individual lives, at the very same time He is watching and orchestrating nations. We stand before Him alone, but also with others.

  • The salvation of a few righteous (those who are living by faith in the Lord) through God's judgment calamity is a comfort, reassuring us that God does not act in vain (capriciously or without design or purpose).

  • All of this reminds me, that God is still sovereign in the world, accomplishing His judging and saving purposes through the movement and acting of nations. The United States is a young nation, and our future is in no way secure or guaranteed. The "conduct and actions" of our land and city can assuredly bring God's judgment.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Push Button Spirituality

Stumbled on to this challenging quote by A.W. Tozer. We'll definitely use it in our worship folder down the road, but I thought I'd throw it out here now for your contemplation and response. I'm definitely guilty of push button spirituality. . . how about you?

A generation of Christians reared among push buttons and automatic machines is impatient of slower and less direct methods of reaching their goals. We have been trying to apply machine-age methods to our relations with God. We read our chapter, have our short devotions, and rush away, hoping to make up for our deep inward bankruptcy by attending another gospel meeting or listening to another thrilling story told by a religious adventurer lately returned from afar.

The tragic results of this spirit are all about us. Shallow lives, hollow religious philosophies, the preponderance of the element of fun in gospel meetings, the glorification of men, trust in religious externalities, quasi-religious fellowships, salesmanship methods, the mistaking of dynamic personality for the power of the Spirit; these and such as these are the symptoms of an evil disease, a deep and serious malady of the soul.

---A. W. Tozer, in THE PURSUIT OF GOD, Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1948, pp. 69-70.
Lord, take us deep. The life of faith is usually slow business, usually a walk, not a run. What is happening in our souls? Do we even know? Can we even tell?

I think we've been unkowingly shoved into the world's mold in thinking a relationship with God is instant and easy.

Monday, September 28, 2009

If Ever You Worshipped. . .

Danny Oertli is a gifted singer/songwriter we met at Family Camp on Catalina Island this last summer. We bought one of his CDs and threw it in the player as nighttime music for our kids. We've listened to it continually since June, so now the kids know all the songs.

I like them all, but one of my favorites is If Ever You Worshipped It's Now. It's a song for moms about how even the endless mundane tasks of motherhood are really a form of worship. I'd love to have someone learn it and sing it on Mother's Day. Or maybe we can get Danny to come out . . . .

I think about the truth of this song, as I lay and snuggle with my kids at bed time, and struggle with all the things that are not getting done during that time.

I think we need this reminder. We tend to think of the life of faith as only about the big, turning point moments of life, but usually faith in the Lord consists of the small, simple, daily stuff of life.

As we look at Abraham's BIG call and God's BIG promises this coming week, we also need to keep in mind the years of waiting and wandering. The decades when God didn't seem to speak or lead or show up.

Today is an opportunity to worship and trust the Lord in whatever circumstances you find yourself. Don't wait for the big moments. Embrace the daily moments.

Thanks, Danny, for the great reminder!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pics from the 2009 Fall Kick-Off

Here are some fun pics from our day together. Can you find yourself?

Many thanks to all who served and helped us enjoy the day!

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

HT: Amy-Lynne. Let's be honest. She sort of bugs us with that ever present camera of hers, but in the end we're glad and thankful for it. . . .she captures these days and events for us.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

He is broken with us!

Some have requested the Peter Kreeft quote from the September 13 message entitled "Wisdom & Adversity." I'll do better than that and include not just the quote but a link to the excellent essay online. (I've actually referenced it more than once previously here at life together, but no matter. . . .)

Kreeft is showing us how the cross of Christ provides the way to deal with and process our own suffering/adversity. God has not give us a complete air tight answer, but, in fact, has given us something better than that . . . He's given us a Person. . . He's given us Himself. Once more we see how the Gospel is the center and the answer to all we experience in life.

Here's what was on the slides. . . .

In coming into our world He came also into our suffering…He sits beside us in the lowest places of our lives, like water.

Are we broken? He is broken with us.

Are we rejected? Do people despise us not for our evil but for our good, or attempted good? He was “despised and rejected of men.”

Do we weep? Is grief our familiar spirit, our horrifyingly familiar ghost? Do we ever say, “Oh, no, not again! I can’t take any more!”? He was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”

Do people misunderstand us, turn away from us? They hid their faces from him as from an outcast, a leper.

Is our love betrayed? Are our tenderest relationships broken? He too loved and was betrayed by the ones he loved. “He came unto his own and his own received him not.”

Does it seem sometimes as if life has passed us by or cast us out, as if we are sinking into uselessness and oblivion? He sinks with us. He too is passed over by the world.

When we feel the hammers of life beating on our heads or on our hearts, we can know-we must know-that he is here with us, taking our blows. Every tear we shed becomes his tear. He may not yet wipe them away, but he makes them his. Would we rather have our own dry eyes, or his tear-filled ones? He came, He is here. That is the salient fact. If he does not heal all our broken bones and loves and lives now, he comes into them and is broken, like bread, and we are nourished.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I meant SEPTEMBER 23rd . . .

Not really . . . . Thanks to the many of you who have asked about the blog. . . . .I don't know what to say, except I guess I needed a break. I've been in a mode of evaluating the place and priority of social networking in my life in light of my other callings as husband, father and pastor. In fact, I've decided to shut down my Twitter experiment, but will return to regular posting here at "life together." We all only have so much time and energy and there is much that pulls at us. We can't do it all. Among all the possible goods, we must consistently refocus and re-prioritize. After blogging consistently for a number of years, I wanted to know how it felt to not blog regularly. . . . it felt good.

Anyway, let me get back to it. . . .

Yesterday was our 2009 Grace Fall Kick Off . . . a great day, though they tell me our numbers were down a bit. . . . didn't seem like it to me, but so they tell me. Sweet spirit of fellowship and lots and lots of new faces. Thanks for inviting your friends, neighbors and co-workers.

Here's a great recap vid that my talented friend Jack Hutchinson threw together. . . .

(On a personal note. . . I try and listen and evaluate myself fairly regularly. It's always painful. Watching myself here on the front end was doubly painful!)