Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The call to charity for those in poverty

For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, 'You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.'
Deuteronomy 15:11

God's plan for Israel was that a responsible society would help all of its members. If find it interesting that God Himself acknowledges that in any human society the reality of some poverty would always exist. Even in Israel... even in the Promised Land. God said that while Israel existed as a nation, poverty would be a social issue.

We should help those in need. That is a given. The deep question is how. But nowhere in scriptures are we told to expect that by human effort alone the elimination of poverty is possible. Human systems and social orders are too corrupted by sin to achieve this. Instead, God wisely instructed Israel that care for the needs of the poor was a matter of personal moral conviction and action. "YOU... open wide YOUR hand... to YOUR brother... to the needy ... to the poor... in YOUR land." It is a part of good personal character to not ignore the extreme need of those in poverty.

I prefer to view this not in terms of income levels or lack of dollars, but in terms of human need for the basics... food, shelter, safety. The poor of the bronze age Middle East were victimized and often died in starvation and abuse. God would not let His people tolerate and perpetuate that kind of treatment of the neediest people made in His image. Instead, care for the poor meant employing them (read the rest of Deuteronomy 15) and feeding the poorest of them. Lives would be saved and grateful service rendered in return (Deuteronomy 15:16-18). So charity from the heart can fend off the worst parts of extreme poverty.

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Holiness is a two way street.

For you are a people holy to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
Deuteronomy 14:2

This emphasis comes at the short reminder of dietary law restrictions to the Jews in Deuteronomy 14. And in it I realize that God intended holiness to be a relationship, and not just a condition. They were to sanctify themselves by obeying a holy God. And the Law was meant to show that Israel was a unique and holy people, chosen by God and set apart to Him.

It is easy for me to look at these more restrictive and peculiar parts of the Pentateuch and throw out accusations of arbitrariness. But there is purpose behind even the strangest restriction or command. The purpose was to reflect the holiness of God in the lives of His people. It was to draw them into relationship with Him. That certainly was not arbitrary.

That principle holds true in Christ Jesus. I am part of a holy people, the Church, who are the Body of Christ and are destined to be the Bride of Christ. And we are loved, made holy, as we worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness! Holiness is as much about relationship with God as it is about a theological or personal condition. It is a sacred and unique personal relationship. God calls us to Himself, saves us in His Son, declares us holy and helps us live that way through the guidance of His clear Word and personal presence of His Holy Spirit guiding us. He helps us live in holiness with Him, for Him, and to Him because He loves us.

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Faithfulness to the Lord can be tested.

You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.
Deuteronomy 13:4

This is a call to faithfulness to the Lord. It is a command surrounded by a warning to not drift into any kind of idolatry. There are three ways in which the worship of other gods might drift into Israeli society. These were to be guarded against.

The first warning (Deuteronomy 13:1-5) is to guard against false prophecy. It was likely that someone might initially seem to speak words from God. They might twist His words to their own agenda. That kind of thing might even be accompanied by some display of unusual spiritual power. But if the prophet leads people away from the worship of the Lord, he is to be rejected by the people and executed. He is an idolater.

The second source to guard against was close association of family or friends (Deuteronomy 13:6-11). If anyone wants to advocate the worship of anyone by the Lord God of Israel, they are leading people into idolatry. The temptation might come from close associations and thus be socially complicated, but it is still to be dealt with severely.

The third influence in this chapter (Deuteronomy 13:12-18) was from cultural forces outside immediate personal contact. These cultural forces were never to be allowed to twist thinking towards the acceptance of idolatry. Fierce loyalty to God was to mark all the relationships with family, with friends, and even with the culture in Israel. And they serve as reminders to watch these relationships in ourselves today.

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Two Dangers When Responding to Scripture

Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.
Deuteronomy 12:32

The call to obedience to God's Word means the strict avoidance of two clear extremes. The first thing to do is to avoid adding to the command of God. It is more than just a simple "interpretive error" to twist scripture to make it say something more than it says. Adding to the Word of God always exalts a human contrived thought to the same authority as one of God's thoughts. It gives a man the authority of the Word of God. That is a dangerous and deadly kind of rebellion.

The second danger is equally insidious. It involves diminishing God by diminishing His Word. We must not take away from His commands. This is the danger of liberal theology. It insists that sections of scripture have no authority and do not claim to be what they are. In the end this makes the whole Bible completely unreliable. Cults have mastered this technique through "interpretation" that takes away real meaning and authority.

Actually, throughout human history both of these dangers have been used to support apostasy of every kind. When Israel strayed from God at its worst, it either forgot to keep God's Words in idolatry, or it added unfathomable amounts of additional regulation to it making it totally impractical. Both extremes led to sin and judgment. Accepting God's Word at face fall is the goal of every day in any believer who wants a consistent faith.

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Love & Keep

You shall therefore love the LORD your God and keep his charge, his statutes, his rules, and his commandments always.
Deuteronomy 11:1

God did not want to make of His people Israel a nation of blind adherents to the Law. The key to the relationship was love. God loved and cared for them. They loved and kept His commands. The reciprocal nature of the relationship was meant to build the nation into a powerful witness to the world of God's great and unfailing love.

God enters into relationship with us and we should act on our end of that relationship. We should love God. He is always the initiator because we are unable to truly come to Him as dead sinners. But when we feel the call, we must respond! That way that love is expressed is by living for Him, keeping His commands from our hearts. Living as a Christian is all about making our heart's passion that of pleasing our Lord. It is surrender and love in being all consumed in Jesus! It is like what a married person knows in finding joy in the things that delight and please their spouse.

The challenge for me today will be to love God by doing what He loves and commands. It means practicing the right choices, loving people around me even while they are imperfect and even hurtful, just like God loves every sinner while they were still sinners. It means expecting righteous living in my own heart, thoughts, and actions just as God expects that those who love Him would truly love Him from the heart!

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Great in power, choosing to love.

Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. Yet the LORD set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day.
Deuteronomy 10:14-15

Moses gave a charge to the next generation of Israel, reminding them of the greatness of God and the compelling nature of God's loving choice of them as His people. They were to enter Canaan and take over its territory because of God's might, power and love. God's ways were powerful, beyond anything that they could ever do. His love that was set upon Israel was great beyond all other love. He stayed with them even when they strayed.

God never is diminished by faithfully loving His creation. Love is not a weakness. It is part of His majestic power. Moses sets the scene of God's inexplicable, amazing, loving choice of sinful Israel by first talking about God's power and sovereign control of all things. His love is thus a sovereign choice rooted in His wisdom... down deep in His ways.

Love is an emotion, but that is often so corrupted in weak human nature. We frequently love imperfectly with sentiment and self driving a feeling we have. And if someone does not feed that sentiment or selfish impulse, we can quickly switch from love to anger or hurt or even hate.

But that is not what God does. God loves because it is His nature to love and He is sovereign and strong in His great love. His love does not just hurt, but it heals and brings glory to Himself by so doing. God is great in love. His is majestic and holy in love. He is wise and sovereign in love. I have a lot to learn from Him about how to love!

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Nobody Deserves God's Grace.

Know, therefore, that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people. Remember and do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day you came out of the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the LORD.
Deuteronomy 9:6-7

Israel was blessed solely by the promise of God and not because the present generation had earned the gift of the Promised Land. It was clear that they could not be righteous under their own power. God was helping them by the gift of the Law, by the leadership of Moses, and by bringing them into the Land He covenanted to give to Abraham.

Any grace we are given by God rests solely in His nature and benevolence. It does not come because we earned it (Ephesians 2:8-10). God loves us while we are yet sinners (Romans 5:8). He did so with the rebellious Israelites in the wilderness. He does so with rebellious post-moderns who must look to the cross of Christ for forgiveness, perspective, and life.

I too am a rebel heart. I must not forget that. I must not think that I ever earned anything. Hell is what I deserve. Separation from God was my destiny. But mercy and grace were offered by Christ at the cross. I accepted it, and Christ's righteousness has been the only fitness that could take me to God.

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Family Discipline in Love

Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the LORD your God disciplines you. So you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him.
Deuteronomy 8:5-6

Discipline is a mark of love. God speaks these words through Moses to a generation that had grown up in the harsh wilderness of Sinai. They were fed by manna from heaven. Their clothing and shoes miraculously lasted an entire generation. They looked for everything to come from the hand of God even as their parents suffered punishment for disobedience. They learned discipline that led to continued obedience.

Hard circumstances enter the lives of God's children. That is true. And the question is often "Why does God bring them?" You can say "allow them" if you like, but personally, for me, that softens none of the reality of the hardship. God is sovereign and pain and difficulty do not supersede His control. If they come to us, He has full knowledge and control over that truth. So, He must be God beyond our thoughts about hardship and He must be a God Who will use hardship in us for His purposes.

When life is hard, it is for our good. God is disciplining us... not in a punishing sense, but in a maturing sense. Difficulties bring their own growth moments. They are deep. They may be emotional. But they are still chances for us to grow closer to our Father as we learn discipline.

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fear of man or Faith in God?

You shall not be in dread of them, for the LORD your God is in your midst, a great and awesome God.
Deuteronomy 7:21

Human beings intimidate each other. The bully will always exist as long as one kid is bigger than another. It is the nature of fallen people to hurt and to be hurt. This is true both of individuals and of larger groups of people. Any form of human violence has at its core this kind of pride. And it breeds fear.

Israel could easily be afraid of the task in front of them as they prepared to enter Canaan. God had not chosen them because they were militarily superior or because of their great strength in numbers. They were an insignificant people group on the world scene by God's own estimation (Deuteronomy 7:7). He was going to display His power and strength among them. That is why they did not need to fear what any of the people in the lands surrounding them could do to them. God was in their midst and on their side.

God is great and awesome and powerful. That was true for Israel at the cusp of the conquest. It is always true for those who know God and are His people. There really is nothing to fear when God is in our midst! The task may seem impossible and the opposition looks impressive. Neither of these stand against our great and awesome God. There is really nothing to be afraid of with God in our midst.

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Why I Switched to an iPad

This is an off-topic subject for this blog, but right now after a big storm in De Soto, the cable is down. No mindless entertainment or internet right now, so I thought I would get to something I have been meaning to do: write an apologia for the use of an iPad in my every day ministry and tasks. I never set out to want an iPad... but Apple made it too easy. Let me explain.

Last November I entered an innocent little twitter contest for Logos Bible Software. ( They had just completed their iPhone app, and to promote and celebrate, they were giving away an iPod Touch 8GB model. So I faithfully re-tweeted their little contest entry daily according to the rules, but thought I really was just giving them a little free publicity. And then, in the middle of a staff meeting a message hits twitter from Logos congratulating me for winning. In December they sent me an iPod Touch, and I loaded their free app on it, and suddenly realized that thing was more than a new MP3 player. It was more than a PDA, less than a computer, and very, very useful. I started working on it. Really. It set up my Outlook Exchange Server email account faster and easier than Windows 7 did... no lie. I was hooked. Then I heard about the upcoming tablet computer and the iPad wound up being a really big iPod Touch. And I thought, "That could replace almost all I do on my computer."

So, I used a little restraint. I did not beat down the Apple Store door the first day they were available. I had some planning to do. I had to think what I wanted (bigger than the 8GB... did not want a monthly contract, so no 3G version...) and how I could afford it. So I calmly waited until May to buy a 32GB wifi only version with keyboard dock and Apple supplied protective cover. This was an investment of nearly 8 Benjamins, so I needed to fund it. No prob. I sold the iPod Touch and accessories on Amazon. I sold a few hundred dollars worth of used software on Amazon. I sold a few preaching commentary sets on Amazon. And when the bill came due, 96% of the cost was recovered. Now why did I go to all this trouble?

First, the iPad does what my most urgent and frequent tasks with reliability, speed, and simplicity. I can send and receive email, exchange nearly any type of file, and create nearly any simple document. Almost all my ministry material is stored out in the nebulous and dangerous invisible web cloud. Using, I can share my files between laptops, any computer with web access, and an app on my iPad.

Those apps... there's an app for that. And I have dozens of them loaded already, having developed a serious 12 step worthy addiction to browsing the app store for mostly free apps. With them I can access any file as long as I am on a wifi network... which I am in most places I meet. For instance, I recently attended a meeting of a professional network that I belong to and lo and behold the conference room had free public wifi. That will just get more ubiquitous... which is why I do not see the need to shell out $30 a month for an AT&T data contract.

I am managing this blog on my iPad. I could manage anything on it. Our church uses a planning software with an on-line module. My iPad app gets me to it. The same is true for the ministry database.... secure and password protected and instantly on my iPad. I can access our project plans, our ministry documents, our people contacts and nothing is lost. Really.

And speed is where it is at for me. I used to have to fire up my church issued Lenovo ThinkPad, log on to the church network, log on to the phone server, log on to Outlook, then get to my day. That takes 10 minutes. I would fire up the computer, go get a cup of coffee. Sign on to Windows, go chat with someone. Sign on to Outlook, get a second cup of coffee. But the iPad is instant on. Even if I restart it, that is less than 60 seconds for a full shut down and reboot. Seriously. I press a button, swipe my finger on the unlock, tap my email and it loads. I can be reading email while a coworker is still docking their laptop to the station. I can find info, even in Safari on the web with just a few strategic finger taps.

When I read the first reviews on the iPad, people complained about a lack of multi-tasking. I have not missed it. Most apps just save your place when you close them and open another. For instance, I can use BlogPress to write an entry, close it, open Safari and download a graphic, then open PhotoGene to edit the graphic, then open BlogPress to insert and tweak placement of the graphic, all without ever having to hit save. It just does it.

I have grown to really like using the keyboard dock with it as well. Except for times when I need to create a really fancy document, I can use it for heavy typing, spreadsheet usage, instant messaging, anything I could want. And I can tuck the keyboard and iPad into my smallest book bag or backpack and be out the door.

I think there is a ministry advantage to this mobility. I meet with a lot of people throughout the day, often at different locations. I have begun having documents ready to show them on the iPad screen. There is even an app that lets me use it like a whiteboard. I found that really helpful in counseling and discipleship.

There were a couple of times it has saved my bacon at church. Once, our children's ministry director needed me to look up some information for a family in the church and I had it for her in seconds. I have also used it to look up names of family members as I have mentally prepared for a conversation with a new attender. I have had instant access to our on-line church calendar to answer questions for people on Sundays.

I have prepared two sermons on it, using and their awesome BibleReader app. It lets me keep notes that sync in Evernote (which I have used on my laptops for years) and between it and the Logos app (which accesses hundreds of the volumes of commentaries as well as Greek and Hebrew tools in my Logos electronic library) I have all I need for serious sermon preparation. I haven't been brave enough to actually use the iPad for my live notes for preaching, but I could easily do so!

Personal productivity gets a boost from an iPad. Like my IPod before it, I use it for listening to audiobooks during drive time. I can usually intake a couple of dozen of books every year by doing so. The iBooks app as well as the Kindle app (I prefer the Kindle app because it lets you take notes) let me read. I take in tops stories from the AP, Reuters, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The KC Star, as well as local and national video news. The Safari web browser works fantastically well (except for that nasty Adobe Flash feud Apple has going on). I can talk on it with Skype (built in microphone) and can listen to music on the iPod app. I recently began a series of serious physical therapy sessions to counteract a back condition, and that routine is now on my IPad for my daily use. Spiritually, I do all my Bible reading and my morning prayer time and devotional reflection and journaling on it. I use it to visually create idea charts and record thoughts... even with a voice memo recorder. So it is all over the productivity gymn floor and the iPad sinks three pointers with every shot as far as I am concerned!

I have so far said only good things, but there are a couple of drawbacks. I don't think I can present from my iPad as well as I can from a laptop... for now. Even though I sprang for the Keynote app, limited font choices are not appealing to me. And Apple wants $29 for a VGA video adapter that would let me plug it into a projector. But without a wifi option for that adapter or a remote to control the screen it would be little use to me given that I would normally use it in a large teaching room. So as a presentation tool, there is still a need for development.

Another downside... printing. I get around it by emailing documents to my gmail account and printing them from a connected computer or laptop. There are printshare apps. They cost money and require you to proxy with a computer. My guess is that soon printer manufacturers are going to wise up to this problem. With 2 million iPads already on the market after 2 months, someone wants to make a boatload of cash by creating iPad drivers for popular business printers. I think it will come in time. The direct need to print from my iPad has been rare, and I don't really see this as a huge problem.

So there it defense for becoming a fan of the iPad. My teenagers at home have informed me I am now an iPerson. That's OK. My digital life got a major upgrade at minimal cost as far as I am concerned.

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

The Centrality of the Heart

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.
Deuteronomy 6:6

Because of the New Testament perspective that I have on the Old Testament Law, I tend to minimize the impact God intended for His covenant with Israel. This verse stops me in my tracks and forces me to reconsider how I see it. The Law was not exclusively about outward works. It was about internal commitment and change at the heart level. The Law was supposed to impact Israel at the heart. This is where God wants to make a difference. It cannot be simply about outward conformity.

It is at the heart level that our core commitments live. And the reality is that love for the Lord must start there, from within, with all the heart, the soul, the mind, and the strength that we have (Deuteronomy 6:5). It is much more than a belief that God exists. That might just be a fantasy, like belief in the Easter Bunny, a magical genie, or Santa at Christmas. And simple belief alone does not real worship make!

Loving the Lord is not a mental exercise or mere wishing. It is a rigorous conviction that drives the believer from within even as it changes us forever. It causes us to treasure His words within our hearts until those words are what we crave to earnestly describe and make sense of our lives! This is what my heart was made for: love God and keep His words there!

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Careful to Do It

You shall be careful therefore to do as the LORD your God has commanded you. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.
Deuteronomy 5:32

I read Your Word, Lord
and a lamp to my feet
light to my path, Lord
shines brightly where I meet
the purposes You have for me.

I look to You for direction
and you show me the way
with words that are perfection
to guide my every step, all day
as You always provide for me.

Yet with a path and purpose shown
I must step out and do it
I must go exactly where I am shown
and live the truth now as I know it.
I must follow You, Lord.

And stepping out to walk in obedience
You reward me with more good things.
And the path gets brighter in guidance
as I obey, finding joy in all your ways.
Contentment's found in You, Lord.

I hear it, follow it, and through it
I find godliness, contentment... gain.
I must be always careful to do it,
bringing glory to Your Great Name!
Your Word is joy! May I be careful to do it!

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Location:Thompson Dr,De Soto,United States

Monday, June 14, 2010

Two Dangers in Dealing with Scripture

You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you.
Deuteronomy 4:2

There are two dangers mankind always confronts when handling the Word of God. The first danger is to add human constructions to it that are viewed as equal to it. The second danger is to diminish scripture by taking away from its authority. These are both equally dangerous.

Moses warned Israel that both extremes would not be the way to "keep the law" given to them. They needed to guard their hearts from these tendencies. Respect for the God of Israel meant at a practical level honest love and respect for the Word of God. God had revealed His will and ways in His law. They would serve God by not adding or taking away from it.

And the history of Israel eventually led to a dismissive attitude toward this command. The Jews of the First Century had groups that put high regard on oral traditions of the Rabbis. Some invested those traditions with the authority of scripture. Others denied the authority of much of the Old Testament and thus also disobeyed this command.

Both types of groups rejected the "Word made flesh" in Jesus. So disrespect for God's Word defined the generation of Israel of Jesus' contemporaries. This was ultimately a disrespect for God, as shown in the gospels in the way Jesus was treated.

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

God...on our side.

And I commanded Joshua at that time, 'Your eyes have seen all that the LORD your God has done to these two kings. So will the LORD do to all the kingdoms into which you are crossing. You shall not fear them, for it is the LORD your God who fights for you.'
Deuteronomy 3:21-22

Moses gives credit where credit is due. God had given Israel victory west of the Jordan in order to confirm for the next generation of leaders that the conquest of Canaan would be God's doing. Moses did live to see these initial victories. Joshua would be used by God to lead Israel to the final possession of the Promised Land.

The secret strategy behind Israel's success was not a big secret: God was on their side and their foes did not stand a chance under those conditions. God is with His people. That is an unchanging truth. The same reality marks my life today. The apostle Paul put it in a rhetorical question: "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31). Indeed. Joshua and Israel lived this truth every time that they went up against another Canaanite stronghold. And God won.

We acknowledge that You are on the side of believers, though at times it may not feel like it when tragic evil seems so strong in our experience. But not even death is our final foe, for Jesus, You have conquered even that! May we follow Your command to experience all that You want to give us!

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Good Desert Sands

For the LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He knows your going through this great wilderness. These forty years the LORD your God has been with you. You have lacked nothing.
Deuteronomy 2:7

Moses talked about the wilderness wanderings as a real spiritual experience of great positive impact... why? The reason he could do so has to do with the audience to whom he is recounting this history. This is the generation that will enter Canaan. The grumbling, faithless Egyptian slave generation have all died in the desert. This new generation, the children of slavery, has grown up in the wilderness. They understood God's provision and leadership in the desert sands. It defined their relationship with God.

In many ways God will use the difficult circumstances of our lives to shape us into a people of faith. That is what I know about God. I appreciate that God saw fit to save me, save my parents when I was very young, and provide me solid church and schooling experiences. My share of desert difficulty came in my teen years, and later in young adulthood. God is sovereign and His purposes prevailed! For through it all, I believe God shaped me for the unique ministry of working with hurting or confused people, some of them casualties of Christian snipers... my own experience at times.

In the desert, Israel lacked nothing. The nation had all she needed in a sovereign, loving, and caring God. The same is true for me. My deserts have been moments where God has become the dearest thing to me. In the desert I have lacked nothing, because the Lord my God has been with me.

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Devastation of Disobedience

"Yet you would not go up, but rebelled against the command of the LORD your God. And you murmured in your tents and said, 'Because the LORD hated us he has brought us out of the land of Egypt, to give us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.'
Deuteronomy 1:26-27

A selfish stream of thinking led to a miserable and dangerous theology and that brought about God's judgment that defined a generation in Israel. The Exodus generation had so much promise, so much potential to believe God. They experienced so much directly from the hand of God. You'd think it would have strengthened their faith. They had been slaves in Egypt under awful treatment. They saw God defeat a political superpower while they did not lift a finger. God secured their freedom. God literally fed them in the wilderness. He led them visibly. They received His law... a document unique to them. But they ended up believing that God was the exact opposite of Who He was. That was a problem... a big problem.

The result of their tent rebellion was that God saw it, was angered, and acted (Deuteronomy 1:34). And an entire generation was cursed to depend on Him solely in the wilderness for the next forty years. They were spiritual toddlers who would die never having really matured in their faith, but nurtured by God nonetheless. That was the result of a theology that disbelieved God's love and refused faith. It disobeyed God and would not follow Him.

Fruitlessness and judgment follow in the wake of disobedience. Even if that disobedience still has some kind of belief in God. These Israelites believed there was a God. They did not believe what He revealed about Himself. The result is very tragic and is painful to read. But God still loved Israel. He prepared a new generation during that 40 year time period. That new generation would boldly and gladly claim His promise.

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Monday, June 7, 2010

When God Sings

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

This verse gives an important insight into the heart of our saving God. God loves to be the God of deliverance and salvation. The precious promises found in this verse come after severe judgment and justice come among God's people. They would pass through a refining fire. Arrogant leaders and profane priests would be eliminated (Zephaniah 3:3-4). The humble and lowly would be left with an attitude of seeking the Lord (Zephaniah 3:12). Then salvation would work again among God's people.

I love the three ways this affects God. 1) He rejoices over the people whom He has saved and who now serve Him. Our salvation and service bring joy to the heart of God. 2) He will quiet the hearts of His people by His love. He enters into a relationship with us that brings peace and love into our troubled lives. He settles us down. 3) The wildest part of this is that God will break out in exultant, loud singing over our salvation! He sings over us. Imagine that! We worship Him in song in our humble praise, but God loudly sings over us when we are saved by Him. Salvation's joy is a duet, song by man and God!

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Human Pride & the World's Oldest Lie

This is the exultant city that lived securely, that said in her heart, "I am, and there is no one else." What a desolation she has become, a lair for wild beasts! Everyone who passes by her hisses and shakes his fist.
Zephaniah 2:15

These words were written about a city that God at one time spared when they repented: Ninevah. You can read about their story of repentance in Jonah. But at this stage, human pride had crept in. The Assyrians were proud and cruel. This city had attitude. They felt they were the greatest thing on earth. The new city slogan was one that only should be said of God: I am and there is no one else. This was hijacking the glory of God.

God promised complete desolation to that town, and that is exactly what occurred. Ninevah is now an archeologist's ruin. It became desolate and deserted. An empire crumbled. A city was overrun and destroyed. Only ruins exist and they had to be dug from the earth that swallowed them.

Human pride is very powerful and very temporary. It gets its instant of self-glory, but in no way does it compare to the eternal majesty of God. Eventually humanity's best efforts lead to ruin. We fall apart. Entropy and decay, disease, chaos, war, and poverty all take their toll. We cannot claim to be like God, though Satan continues to re-package that first lie to us (Genesis 3:4-5). Glory only belongs to God. And human beings are better only in worship of Him.

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Believing There is a God is Dangerously Not Enough

At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the men who are complacent, those who say in their hearts, 'The LORD will not do good, nor will he do ill.'
Zephaniah 1:12

This verse show us that the heart of God is not tender toward His people when they become apathetic toward Him. These folks are theists. They believe God does exist. They just cannot ascribe any clear activity in the world to Him. But God is about to change their theology.

The climate that created that kind of complacency in Jerusalem was one in which Israel had slowly let the worship of God decline. It began by allowing idolatry to coexist. Then they became syncretistic in their religion, acknowledging every kind of pagan god around them. That is the danger of an accommodating religious tolerance that things all religions are equal. All religions do not teach the same thing and do not lead to the same place. And God gets our attention when we disobey Him or replace Him or deny Him.

God was going to demonstrate His judgment on people who doubted His activity in the world. It would eventually come very swiftly and brutally to Jerusalem. Eventually Babylon would totally sack the city, kill thousands, and lead the survivors in humiliation to a captivity far from their familiar home. There the Jews would abandon idolatry never to return to it. But the hard lessons would come because believing there is a God is never enough to enter into proper relationship with Him. Good theology leads to robust worship, obedience, and the awareness of His activity in the world.

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Location:Thompson Dr,De Soto,United States

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Supremacy of Face to Face Conversation

Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.
2 John 12

Technology and time have created more distance in personal communication even as they have made messages and contact with others ubiquitous. This is true in every form of communication since the advent of the paper and stylus and the written word. John knew that though this letter could be encouraging, nothing would beat a personal visit and face to face conversation.

But today, in the 21st century, speedy communication now rules most "conversations". We have the "instant message" and the cellphone text message where even spelling and grammar barely exist for the urgency of the medium of the messenger's choice. All the focus is on the messenger, and not so much the message. I consider these things as necessary evils. They are bottom dwelling scum-suckers in the food chain of communication. Above them is the concept of e-mail or the Facebook status... but just barely above them. These are also fast forms of communication... fast, but hard to see if they are friendly.

Voice communication is better because intonation can help determine what is being said. But without body language and eye contact, meaning is inevitably lost. Sometimes it is a big deal these days to call rather than e-mail or text. What a sacrifice!

The best way to know what is really meant is to talk face to face. This is what John loved. And it took sacrifice and months of travel, but his plan was to do so. The gospel and true Christian fellowship was worth the investment of face to face talking. It always is. This is why Christians should congregate together. That is why no blog, no on-line "community", no e-mail distribution list, and no group text chat can replace the real fellowship of believers in the church. Let's not lose that!

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.