Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Picture of Jesus Love for Us

In Psalm 45 is a picture of a wedding day, actually it starts in 44 with a song for the groom and then runs into 45 with a song for the bride.  Something we don't really get about weddings back then, they were arranged, many times years before the couple were old enough to actually get married.  Sometimes the bride was "sold" to the highest bidder.  Often, because women were seen as possessions in those days, they were not treated very well. But in this song it's more than just a song for the bride about her groom and new life - it's an allegory (a representation of a spiritual meaning in a real-life picture) for Jesus and His bride, the church.
In verse 11 the singer says to the bride, "be here" which is a such a cool statement as I remember my own wedding day.  There were so many things going on that I think I missed a lot of that day because, instead of being in the moment at hand, I was thinking about all the other moments coming up, including trying to remember the words to the Luther Vandross song I sang to her (deleted that from the video!).  It's a flaw I have, I'm so focused on the destination I can't enjoy the journey.  It was true even on my wedding day.  But the bride here is encouraged to be in the moment - to bathe in what is happening right here, right now.
Now, 20 years later, I wish I could remember every second of my wedding but there is one thing I do remember, the way Andi looked at me as we stood on the stage.  She looked up at me like her whole life was being displayed in my eyes.  She could have looked right through me... it would have been one those really incredible memories if my knees wouldn't have been shaking so much!  But I do remember looking down at here thinking, "Wow, this beautiful girl is really marrying me... she really loves me."
The singer says, "be here."  Don't worry about anything else, just be right here, soaking up every moment, every breath, every sensation, sound, smell, sight.
But the real kicker here is WHY he says "be here."  It's because the groom in his song is, "wild for her." How cool is that!  Here's an arranged marriage that could have gone wrong but instead the groom is wildly in love with her!  That means that He wants what is best for her, He will seek what is best for her and do whatever he can to show His love for her in every situation.  He says, "be here" because this guys is crazy in love with you!  What a wonderful moment!
And he continues, "because he is your lord, adore him."  So, it's okay to be in the moment.  Forget the past, your parent's home, baggage, former life, pain and worry and focus on the moment, where your future lies.  It's easy to do because your husband loves you like crazy... and because he is your "lord" (in that time the man was the head of the house - the Bible still tells us this is true today) AND he loves you so much you can be free to adore him.
When we view this in the allegory we see that you and I are the bride, our husband, Jesus is wild about us and loves us with everything that He is (even facing and enduring death for us) but He doesn't have to!  He is the creator and sustainer, He owns us.  He could simply make us follow and obey.  But instead He loves us.  We are now free to adore Him.  To be here in the moment and trust that He has our best interest at heart and will love us no matter what.  We adore Him because He has earned it, not because it's demanded of us and that is really what adoration is all about.
I love you Savior, for you first loved me and will never not love me. Let me look into Your eyes for You are my present and my future.

Friday, February 11, 2011

God's place in your life

Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

In my life I have found that I seem to want the best God has to offer me along with something else that I would like to have. I want God's protection... but I pick fights. I want God to provide for me financially... but I want to choose how I spend what He provides. I want God to make my life easy and secure... but I don't want to change the way I live.
I've been reading in Judges 17 and 18 the last two days and there is a story about a guy named Micah. It seems he stole some money from his mother, a lot of money. She got made when she discovered it was missing and she cursed the thief. Later, for some reason, Micah gave the money back to his mother. He told her he heard the curse she pronounced on the thief so maybe he was feeling guilty and didn't want the bad stuff she said to happen to him. Anyway, he gave her the money back with no apology. And instead of punishment his mother praised him for returning the money. It turns out that she had dedicated that money to God and had determined to use it to make some idols to use in worship. But instead of using it all (as she had dedicated it all) she uses only a small portion, about 15% and makes several cast gods to worship. Later in the story when a Levite outcast comes to live with Micah we hear him say, “Now I know that God will make things go well for me—why, I’ve got a Levite for a priest!”
It seems to me that we often worship God-And... God-and my own decisions. God-and possessions. God-and my spouse. God-and what makes ME feel good. God-and what I want to do. And we seem to have no problem with it! We wonder why God isn't working more on our behalf? We can't figure out why He isn't providing financially for us? We try to discern why our marriages, children, relationships aren't more stable.
As it turns out, God may not be working in your life because you're doing the exact opposite of what He wants from you. God may not be providing for you financially because you're making poor financial decisions that don't put Him first where your money is concerned. Your marriage or other relationship may stink because you've made your spouse or someone else the god of your life and you try to please them instead of Him.
God wants to be first in your life... He demands it. And He should! He's the creator and sustainer of everything, including you! The first and greatest command is to love God with all that you are. But we often love God with all that we can spare. See, I love possessions, power, position, people and pesos. I want a God who will help me keep all of that and then give me what I want from Him as well.
When we put God first and only in our lives we truly begin to live. Not God-and... God-only.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The God of Comfort

When I was a child and wrecked my bike I ran to Mom. She would get out the band-aids and the peroxide and begin the ritual. The peroxide hurt but I knew it would help and what boy doesn't want a band-aid? When I was a child and got into an argument with a neighbor or friend I looked for Dad. His fists were huge, that's why he never had to use them. I knew that Dad would protect me. Mom and Dad did a good job of comforting me and making me feel loved.

Then I became an adult. Married with children. And a scrape on my knee or a bully down the street were the least of my problems. As Husband and Dad I have to protect and provide - those are two of my primary functions. But they aren't easy. I learned quickly that I can't protect my children. I can't be with them all the time and make sure no one looks at them wrong or says mean things to them. Oh how I want to punish those who have been hateful to them! But I can't, pain is a part of growing up. I want to make sure that they have everything they want. But I'm unable to provide all that I would like.

My life is filled with bills and responsibilities and there are relationship obstacles and parental hurdles and struggles of all kinds - I know you can relate. Mom and Dad aren't here to help anymore and what they'd offer is only topical or protective.

But God isn't just concerned with protection, he's about healing. He is always listening. He is close to the brokenhearted. He helps you catch your breath. Even when you get into trouble God is right there, every time. No one who runs to Him loses out.

No matter what is going on in my life when I seek Him, He comforts. When I cry out to Him, He consoles. When I come broken to Him, He picks up the pieces. I always feel better. I always find hope. I always finish my time with God better than when I approached Him. He never lets you down.

Lay it at His feet and don't pick it up again. He's got your back. He is the restorer of broken lives. The healer of hurts. He puts together marriage puzzles that have been broken apart and pushed to the floor. He rewires heart to head to spirit so we think clearly. He gives us focus and determination.

God never fails. Trust it. Trust Him

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Time to repent for my thinking....

The word REPENTANCE means to turn around, change direction or make a U-turn. It is most often used of people who are on a life course of sin and destruction but come to know Jesus Christ and make a U-turn in their life, now headed for heaven. It means that you change your mind about sin, you used to go after sin with everything you had, now you go after God the same way.

I think most of us get that. There has to be a course change, a turn around, when we come to know Jesus and the Most Holy God. His Holiness and Divinity demand that we seek to obey and honor Him with our lives.

But I think that we need to repent where our thinking is concerned as well. We need to fundamentally change the way we think. Some might call this a paradigm shift. A change to your whole way of looking at and understanding the world. The Bible tells us that we are no longer to see with our eyes, but rather to walk in faith. That's a difficult thing to do - who would chose to be blind? Who would see what lies right in front of them and not swerve to miss it?

In Psalm 33 David talks of this shift in thinking, this U-turn in how we live life.

No king succeeds with a big army alone, no warrior wins by brute strength. Horsepower is not the answer; no one gets by on muscle alone. Watch this: God’s eye is on those who respect him, the ones who are looking for his love. He’s ready to come to their rescue in bad times; in lean times he keeps body and soul together. We’re depending on God; he’s everything we need.

What we see with our eyes is not always the true story. We look at an army, bigger, stronger, more firepower and we decide to make peace instead of war. We measure up our opponent and decide if we'll survive the fight. Horsepower (which actually means the number of horses the enemy had - not how big the engine is), muscle... we take it all into consideration. But none of that matters to God. His eye is on those who respect Him, not on those who look the biggest or the strongest.

When we're going with God size doesn't matter. You've only got a few dollars to your name? Jesus fed 5,000 men plus women and children with only two fish! Are you on death's doorstep? Jesus called Lazarus, a guy dead for 4 days back to life! You're church isn't big enough? Your offering box isn't full enough? You're not strong enough, fast enough, smart enough? Doesn't matter. God is.

When you're depending on God, He's everything you need. Not more muscle. Not more smarts. You don't need more money in your pocket, you need to change your mind about who God is and what He's capable of. When You're on God's side, you're on the winning side. Always.