Thursday, June 27, 2013

The God of LOVE in the Old Testament

In the past several years, God has shown me some incredible things about His Word.

My education is in English/Language Arts/Literature.  One of the things that I found while in school is a love for how the written language works--especially in Literature.  I have had immense pleasure in dissecting passages of text and pulling out all of the little things the author included. It is not unlike digging for hidden treasures. It was like I could open the pages and examine what the author said and then examine how the author said it. The deeper I went into the work, the more it seemed that I could find the author in the words.

Well, one day, God directed me to His book.

I had been avoiding doing this because it seemed wrong, somehow, to use something I'd learned with secular writing with the Bible.

But then God said something that made me do a mental double-take. He told me that HE was the author of the Bible, and that He was every bit as clever as anyone who had ever written anything secular.

"I crafted this work for a purpose. I used many hands and many hearts, but I crafted it. Look in my Word and see MY hidden treasures. Look in my work and find ME."

So I began re-reading the word. And this was my quest: The Bible says that God is "the same yesterday, today, and forever," and it says that "God is love."  Soooo, what about the Old Testament? I can't count how many times I've heard people refer to the "God of the Old Testament" as a vengeful, judging God," or "you could wring blood from the pages of the Old Testament."

Well, wait a second.  If the Bible is true, and it says that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, then the God of the Old Testament is the SAME as the God of the New Testament. Jesus didn't change the nature of God... He explained it!

So I looked, starting with Genesis, starting with Man and his fall. . . and I found the God of Love.

In every situation, with every person, with every judgement, Once I started looking for His love, it was plain to see.

Look FOR the God of Love in YOUR Bible, and then FIND Him in your LIFE.

I'll be telling more about this in future posts.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Decisions, Decisions...

Well, about the time that I think I've finally got a handle on where I'm going and what I'm going to do when I get there. . . Things Change.

So, since school ended, I've been working at the job I was at before I started school. It has been a good thing. I work for a man for whom I have a great deal of respect, and I'm getting to do things I've dreamed of seeing happen with the business for years.

In addition to that, since I am not teaching professionally, I am now working a job that gives me the possibility for writing time.

I have a deep love of reading--particularly of Science Fiction and Fantasy. In the process of completing school, I have found a nearly equal love for writing the same.

I feel that I may even have a talent for it, though it will take some practice and honing before the skill is marketable, but I have been pursuing this as a career.  I actually have felt like God has been leading me in this direction, so I've been working on short story ideas and novel plot development--it has been a lot of fun.

But I'm finding myself questioning some things.

I very much want to write Fantasy novels. That is what I have read, and that is where my ideas generally go. My vision for this is to create worlds and "magics" that are based on True Biblical and Spiritual concepts. That may sound like a contradiction, but hear me out.

Most Fantasy fiction involves power, magic, gods and goddesses, and so on. They all address/fulfill a longing that is built into humans for the supernatural. We are created to seek out God, and part of that includes His power and His spiritual nature. The problem is that the VAST majority of Fantasy novels fulfill these longings with concepts that are completely carnal and lead the readers' minds to (unconsciously) seek these things in the wrong places; the novels "train" readers to expect supernatural things to look and feel a way that is not going send them in God's direction.

What I want is to create stories, where the nature of "power" is parallel with the True nature of power, where power comes from submission to the will of the source of the power, and where  control is an illusion. I want to create a story where the dealings that the characters have with their deity reflect dealings with the real God. In short, I want to give the readers magic and supernatural events and experiences that will prime them to seek and recognize Godly things outside the books.

So, that's what I've been working toward. With some distractions.

But now, I'm also finding that I have a strong desire to write about what I've learned about the Bible and operating in the Spirit.

I want to write a book/blog that goes through the Bible, character-by-character and show God's love through out the Old Testament and New.

I want to share about the struggles I've had learning how to accept God's true forgiveness and acceptance of me, and how He truly does want to speak to and through me. I want do describe how I learned to hear God and all of the things I've learned about Him.

I also want to sit down and go through as many of the "Hard Questions" that are floating around. You know, the ones that the really confrontational opponents to Christianity like to throw around. And I want to Answer them.  I've heard some of these questions, and if someone would just stop and read the Scripture they are misusing, and read it in CONTEXT, the answers are not difficult. Some of them are involved, but if a person REALLY wants an answer, and not just an argument, the answers are out there to be found.

So you see, I want to do so much with my writing, but there is only so much time in a day.

I'm taking some time now to work on pre-writing for several projects, and waiting for God to let me know which way (or ways) He wants me to go.

Decisions, decisions.  I have decided to follow Jesus, . . .

But right now it seems like He's sitting in a rocking chair, rocking contentedly, smiling and humming as He's reading a book. (A book that I'm supposed to write?) But I can't seem to get Him to let me see the title.

So, for now, I'll just carry on and keep an ear out for Him to lead me.

And I may start a couple of Topic Specific blogs as well.

I'll keep you posted.

Until next time,
God Bless.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Purpose for the Storm

My wife and I host a small group meeting in our home on Wednesday nights. This has been an enormous blessing on so many levels.

Tonight we talked about Solomon's son Rehoboam. The discussion went, generally, about choices and consequences, but there was one place in the story where something God said to Rehoboam just stood out to me. It is found in 1 Kings 12, after Rehoboam has been ousted by the Israelites and returns to Judah.

21 When Rehoboam arrived in Jerusalem, he mustered all Judah and the tribe of Benjamin—a hundred and eighty thousand able young men—to go to war against Israel and to regain the kingdom for Rehoboam son of Solomon.

22 But this word of God came to Shemaiah the man of God: 23 “Say to Rehoboam son of Solomon king of Judah, to all Judah and Benjamin, and to the rest of the people, 24 ‘This is what the Lord says: Do not go up to fight against your brothers, the Israelites. Go home, every one of you, for this is my doing.’” So they obeyed the word of the Lord and went home again, as the Lord had ordered.

Can you see what stood out to me? :-)

Sure, Rehoboam messed up. We all do. And, yes, things had gone terribly wrong.  But here, God tells him "this is MY doing."


You mean all of this terrible stuff is YOUR work?

And Rehoboam says, "Okay." and they go home.

How often do things go poorly for us and we miss the point of the experience just because all we can focus on is how our plans didn't work out, or how unpleasant the situation is?

There is so much PEACE in knowing that God has a hand in what happens to us, and that He has a purpose.

It may not always be pleasant, but if God is doing it, it's GOOD. It's RIGHT.
That's when we have to stop and decide that if what is going on really IS God, then the reason it seems bad is because we're looking at it from the wrong perspective.  It's time to look to the Father and find His purpose in it and gain some peace in knowing that what we're going through is for a reason--it has meaning.

Don't believe that this can give peace and strength? Well, here's an example:

Jesus is on the cross. He's been beaten to the point of near un-recognizability. Nearly every friend he's ever had has abandoned him. Everyone else is mocking him. Soldiers are gambling to pass the time while they wait for him to finish dying by torture. . .
What does he do?

Matthew 27:46
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

He complains? He cries out because God has abandoned him too? He despairs?

No. He quotes scripture.

Psalm 22:1
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

Now why would that help? Okay, so he's not just complaining, but is it much better that he uses scripture to complain?

Look further in that particular Psalm.

verse 7. Those who look at me laugh. They stick out their tongues and shake their heads.
8 They say, “Turn to the Lord for help. Maybe he will save you. If he likes you, maybe he will rescue you.”

Then look at Matthew 27:41

41 The leading priests, the teachers of the law, and the Jewish elders were also making fun of Jesus. 42 They said, “He saved others, but he can’t save himself! He says he is the king of Israel! If he is the king, let him come down now from the cross. Then we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God, so let God save him now, if God really wants him. He himself said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 And in the same way, the robbers who were being crucified beside Jesus also insulted him.

And further in the Psalm:
18 18 18 They divided my clothes among them,
and they threw lots for my clothing.

Matthew 27:35 When the soldiers had crucified him, they threw lots to decide who would get his clothes.

And more....

Jesus didn't just randomly quote a "complaining scripture: he quoted one the specifically predicted what he would go through on the cross. Jesus recognized the events he was experiencing from the Psalm and KNEW that he was going through it all for a purpose. He was reminding himself that God had already said "this is MY doing." And this encouraged Jesus.

And this encouraged Jesus. . . .
1. Jesus NEEDED encouragement, so don't feel bad if YOU do; If Jesus needed it, we're lucky we can survive without it.

2. WHEN he needed it, he got it from knowing that God has a purpose for the trouble we face. It may not be pleasant, but it's GOOD. and RIGHT.

Monday, June 17, 2013

What did you come looking for?

Matthew 11:
7 As John’s followers were leaving, Jesus began talking to the people about John. Jesus said, “What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed blown by the wind? 8 What did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes live in kings’ palaces. 9 So why did you go out? To see a prophet? . . . 

Why did people come to see John the Baptist?  What was it that drew them? Was it just the new fad? 
Maybe, in part, but was that all?

Jesus' words show that they did come looking for something more; they came looking for a prophet. 
They had teachers of the Law of Moses. They had Scribes and Pharisees and Sadducees and more...
What did they want from John the Baptist?

Let's look further back. (and I mean a LOT further back)

1 Samuel 3:
1 Meanwhile, the boy Samuel served the LORD by assisting Eli.  Now in those days messages from the LORD were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon.

I was teaching this story to my Sunday School class this past Sunday, and it suddenly struck me that it was an odd thing to say to start telling about Samuel.

The previous chapter talked about how sinful Eli's son were, and the word that was about to come to Samuel was about that, so why throw the part in about how rare hearing from God was?

And then, while it was coming out of my mouth, I realized why it was so important. And why it was important in John the Baptist's time as well.

When people came to the temple, they didn't just come to hear the teaching--They came expecting, they cam desperate for the Living, Applicable Word from the LORD.  They wanted a vision or a word that God spoke to/for them for THAT day.  Eli's sons were despicable in the eyes of the LORD, and Eli's refusal to correct them was equally bad, so God withheld His word from them.

But the people WANTED to hear from God.  

So, what do you come to church for?  Hmm?

Do you come to hear teaching? (Well, of course.) But is that all you expect? Is that all you seek?

God is still speaking to His people. We are SUPPOSED to come looking for His interaction.

It is time to start praying for the body of Christ to seek the prophetic word again. Actively. Passionately.

And this time, the prophetic is not just limited to the prophets--they have their own ministry and purpose, but God's spoken word is intended for ALL; He wants to speak to us individually and guide us personally. And at church (or any other corporate gather ing of believers) we should seek the prophetic work to help us know the path God intends for us as a body.  

But the important thing is that we SEEK His word.  

What will you come to see? 
A man in a suit?
Choirs singing songs?

Or a Living God Active in your fellowship?