Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Wouldn't it be nice...

Yoda and I 
So a couple of weeks ago my wife and I were down at the Farmer's Market here in Bellingham and who should I happen to see?  Yoda - yes, Yoda, as in the "Jedi Master."  I thought he had died but he told me that in fact, that was only in the movie and he was very much still alive, (now over 1000 years old).  I asked him a number of questions and he replied with such wisdom, that I'm still trying to uncover the mystery of all he said to me...of course, that might be simply because he was talking backwards the whole time.

Of course, Yoda is just a fictitious character from George Lucas' imagination.  This got me to thinking, though - wouldn't it be nice if all of us had a teacher like Yoda?  Someone who had all wisdom and power, someone who took a personal interest in our lives, someone who would always show up when we were in trouble, someone who would be happy for us when we succeeded?  Wouldn't it be nice?  Wouldn't it be great if there were answers to all of our questions, and someone to guide us who had been there before?

 12"I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. 15All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.  (Romans 8:12-14)

Of course the truth is, we do have this.  We have access to God's wisdom, His power, His truth, His guidance - and He is like a good Father who greatly desires to give us good gifts.  Wouldn't it be nice indeed?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Do You See God?

Julie and I are enjoying Brennan immensely.  It is an amazing thing to watch a child come into the world and experience things for the first time.  One evening while I was working late, Julie took Brennan outside to see the sunset.  She described his reaction to me, that as soon as he saw the colors in the sky and all the hues, he lit up and it became very apparent that he was amazed by this new discovery...a sunset.  It was a memory my wife will treasure forever...watching our son see his first sunset.

I myself am a very visual person.  I learn best by seeing, I think in pictures, and as such, I see God constantly in creation.  It comes naturally to me.  I see a flower and all the intricate colors, or the design on a leaf, or the colors of a sunset or the majesty of a mountain and am immediately drawn to my Creator, Jesus.  As John 1:3 reminds us;

3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

Last night I took Brennan for a walk.  I paused often, showing him flowers, and bugs, and leaves and trees, and he seemed to love it...looking around and experiencing things for the first time.  This got me thinking - do you and I get so busy that we stop looking for God in our lives around us?  Or perhaps more to the point, do stop seeing God?  He is there...He is everywhere.  He is in us, through Christ, and He is constantly working.  I want my relationship with Christ to be like Brennan's relationship with the world around Him - each day is a day of discovery, of new things, of new colors and experiences, a day of seeing God at work in my life and in the world around me.

People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. (Mark 10:13-15)

 Restore to me the joy of your salvation (Psalm 51:12a)

Put these verses together and I think it hits what I'm talking about.  I want my relationship with Christ to, in some ways, mirror elements of childlike-faith, and a constant joy of the salvation that God brings.  And I believe a big part of that is found in "seeing God"...and one of the ways He reveals Himself to us is through His creation.  Take time today to look for and see God...and may His revelation return to you the joy of His salvation.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Revelation, Response

What is worship?  There are many ways of looking at worship, but I think if I had to boil it down I'd put it this way; worship is our response to God's revelation.  God reveals, we respond.  Hopefully, we respond to Him in appropriate ways that are in line with who He is, and all he's done for us.  That response is called worship.  The first example we see of this kind of worship of Jesus is found in the Christmas Story, Luke 2.

15-18As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. "Let's get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us." They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.
 19-20Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they'd been told!

Put simply, the shepherds get a revelation straight from heaven, and they respond...worship.

So what about you and me?  Do we worship God often, or limit ourselves to a few minutes on Sunday, singing some songs?  Those times on Sunday are great as we join with our local congregation in lifting God's praises, but they should be a starting point, not an ending point.  I must start by looking in the mirror.  As a lead worshipper, do I spend time worshipping God throughout the week?  Do I pause often to consider who He is and all that He's doing in my life and in the world around us?  Worship...

The good news is, God is not picky...you don't have to be a great singer.  In fact, singing is just was way of worshipping God.  He is, however, looking for a heart that is worshipping Him...and a life that is following Him.

I think worship starts with thankfulness...God reveals, leading us to be thankful, which leads us to a response...worship.

Take a moment right now and do this;
1) jot some things down about God...who He is, and who He's revealed Himself to be...think about His names
2) then jot some things down that you're thankful for
3) then pause, and worship.  Sing or play a song, draw a picture, say some prayers or praises, take a prayer hike or walk, burn some incense, pick a flower, and thank God...worship Him.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Father's Love

"Then I said to you, "Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them.  The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes,  and in the desert. There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place." (Deut 1:29-31)

All throughout Scripture we read of God being "our Father."  I've always looked at this relationship through the lens of myself being a "son," with a Father.  On April 2nd, 2010, the day Brennan, my son was born, I took on a new perspective...that of a Father.

Today, this set of verses jumped off the page at me; specifically, verse 31; "as a Father carries his son..."  How does a Father carry his son?  Part of this answer might be in how I carry my son...

- I make sure he is supported, usually with my right arm tucked between his legs so that my hand is supporting his neck, and my arm is supporting his back

- His head then rests on my left arm
- This position enables me to look into his eyes and see his smiles, and hear his "speech"
- At times I hold him up in the air with two hands, so that he can strengthen his head/neck
- I always, always, carry him carefully, watching my steps closely so I don't trip and fall and in turn, hurt him
- At times, I have to do things he doesn't like, but things I know that are good for him to help him grow.  At times I let him cry a little, or spend time on his tummy.

- I always carry him with love...ready at a moment's notice to fight anyone to the death to protect him.  

Ever stop to think that this is how our Father carries us?  And think about this...there are many times when Brennan is crying for no reason.  Just last night, he was fussing because he was hungry.  And yet I know that in about 2 minutes he was going to get fed.  Still, he didn't know he was going to get fed and as a result, was crying.

I wonder how often I "cry" instead of "trust?"  And all along, God is saying, "don't worry, don't fuss, my 'salvation' is here for you, and I love you, and am asking you to trust and follow me."

And I wonder, if this isn't what Jesus was hinting at when He said,
"Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all." (Luke 18:17)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Courage...and Fear

15 "The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 16 "When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live." 17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live." (Exodus 1)

I read this and wondered if I would have had the courage to go directly against the king's command?  I like to think I would...hoping that not only do I fear God more than man, but that it is no small thing to take a life, let alone the life of a child.  However, the take-away for us probably isn't to wonder what we'd do if our leaders ordered us to kill.  That's too easy of an answer.  Instead, the take-away here, at least for me, is the answer to this question;

do I 'fear' God enough to always follow Him, no matter what?

The courage of the midwives is admirable, but the source of their courage is rooted in their "fear" of God.  In other words, they chose to follow God rather than man.  So maybe a better question is this;

if someone were to examine my life, would it be marked by following God, or following man?

That's a harder question to ask...and yet it seems, that's the real heart of this passage.  In fact, it's the heart of the gospel of Christ.  Consider these words of Jesus;

"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save his life[h] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it." (Matthew 16)

Who are you following?  Is your life, (and mine), marked by an unwavering commitment to following Christ?  It's a challenging life to live, and yet it is precisely what Christ has called us to.