Forgiveness – it’s too easy.

I think I take sin too casually. Perhaps, it’s that I take forgiveness to casually.

I think I take sin too casually.  Perhaps, it’s that I take forgiveness to casually.

I’m reading through the Bible again this year, but this time chronologically.  I just started Leviticus.  I’m not sayin’ I’ve read this book as often as I’ve read, say, James.  However, I have read Leviticus a time or two and something just slapped me in the face today.

“4 Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him. 5 He shall kill the bull before the Lord; and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood and sprinkle the blood all around on the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of meeting.” (Leviticus 1:4, 5 NKJV)

“… He shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering…”
“… He shall kill it before the LORD…”

Let that sink in. Imagine being “he”.

The first part of the process, I remember – the transferring of my sin to the animal to be offered.  My sin.  My actions, thoughts, attitudes and disobedience – what I did –  becomes the cause of what is about to happen to this animal.

It’s the next part that gave me a bloody nose today.  What hit me is that in this practice, I  kill the sacrifice – by hand – with a knife. There was no lethal injection or medicine to put the animal down and make this easy, clean and painless.  No, this is ugly, loud, and messy.  It is bloody and painful and gruesome. I can only imagine how difficult it is and how much work it was.

It turns out, the last time I read this passage a couple of years ago, I was struck in a very similar manner – see the post here:  “What A Bloody Mess!”

Here’s where it’s different.

I believe if I had to perform that perform that sacrificial ritual – that bloody, exhausting, sacrifice – each and every time I wanted forgiveness, every week , every month, every day – I believe I’d behave differently than I do.

How would my behavior change if I had to gruesomely slaughter a bull to get forgiveness?  How would my behavior change every time I wanted forgiveness, I had to take the life of another animal?

Jesus died a vicious, bloody, painful and gruesome death – so I could have forgiveness.  How would my behavior change if I had to watch “The Passion of The Christ” before every confession? If I had to visualize the beating and abuse He endured for me?

But I don’t.  Jesus died for me to have forgiveness – and that forgiveness comes easily. I only have to ask for it.

At the very least I should remember what my Savior did and endured for me and EVERY one of my sins.  I should remember it every time I ask for forgiveness…

Thank you LORD for dying for me and providing forgiveness and eternal atonement.

Running After Papa

Are you fluent?

I was on a flight today from Denver to DFW and was blessed enough to get an upgrade. I sat in 4a (the window seat) when a gentleman got on the flight behind me with his two girls, I later figured out were his daughters.I’d guess these girls were 6 and 10 years old or so. Not adults by any means.

He sat next to me and the two girls sat across the isle from their father. As they spoke to each other I was amazed at how easily and effortlessly they flowed in and out of English and Spanish, back and forth, with no hesitation or pause. One or two sentences would be in one language and then – while continuing the same thought – the next one or three sentences would be the other language. It was as if their life just “carried on” as the conversation with their father would change from one language to another.

It was a really beautiful thing.

As I walked up the jet way after we landed, I began to wonder how fluent I was in the language of my Heavenly Father.

Am I able to carry on my life – do what I need to do – be that taking my son to Lacrosse practice, or making a phone call for work, or washing the dishes after dinner – and fluently and carelessly go back and forth between the language of my life adn the language of my Heavenly Father?

John 10:27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

After Jesus was transfigured (Matt 17, Mark 9, Luke 9) God himself said of Jesus – “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!”

Do I hear?

Do I follow?

How fluent am I? How fluent are you? Let’s discuss.

Running After Papa…

Issac's Blessing – Part 2 (Gen 27:5-28:5)

Gen 27:5-28:5

The deception of Issac by Jacob to steal Esau’s blessing.

There are tons of things to write about, (conniving, deception, stealing, lying, obedience, blessing, etc.) but I have a question…

In Gen 25:21-28, particularly in v23, the Lord foretells of Esau (the older) serving Jacob (the younger).

22 But the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If all is well, why am I like this?” So she went to inquire of the Lord.

23 And the Lord said to her:

“Two nations are in your womb, Two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other, And the older shall serve the younger.”

24 So when her days were fulfilled for her to give birth, indeed there were twins in her womb. 25 And the first came out red. He was like a hairy garment all over; so they called his name Esau. 26 Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel; so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them. 27 So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man, dwelling in tents. 28 And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
The New King James Version. 1982 (Ge 25:21-28). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Here is the question, was Rebekah’s and Jacob’s lying, dishonest, and wrong actions part of God’s sovereign plan? Would Jacob still have received the blessing had he not deceived his father?

Was it God’s will for them to deceive and cheat and steal Jacob’s way into the promise or would God have preferred to do it another way?

Sacrificing Issac

Gen 22:1-19

God commands Abraham to sacrifice Issac.

This is what “TESTING” looks like.  God asks us to do the inconceivable or the improbable or the impossible and we obey, one step at a time – TRUSTING that He knows what He has asked and that it will be taken care of by His hand.  Abraham attitude is this: ” I  know WHAT God has asked me to do.  I don’t know WHERE or HOW He’s asked me to do it, but I will be ready, immediately.”

Abraham didn’t hesitate in obeying. v3 says he rose early in the morning.  Contrast that to Lot leaving Sodom (Gen 19:15-17) to save his own life!  “Save your own skin and your family” vs. “Kill your only son” – which would make more sense in hesitating?

1. God reveals what we need to know, WHEN we need to know it.  “He is seldom early, but never late.”  I have heard many times.  I know this was certainly the case when we adopted our kids from Russia.  There were so many delays and frustrations both during the adoption process and certainly after the adoptions.  Had God revealed everything to us at the beginning, I’m not sure we would have obeyed as we did.  It’s been HARD.  It’s taken its toll on my biological kids and our family in general with 2 of the 3 kids we adopted having RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder).  But, looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing because where I am spiritually with the Lord, where Dawn is with the Lord and where we are as a married couple is far more than I could have ever hoped or imagined.  Would I do it again?  Tough call.

2. God provides what we need to have, WHEN we need to have it (the ram).  This is the second time this theme has come up recently.  The recent post I did on Hagar had the the theme of God’s provision – at the right time – when Hagar found the well (or God created the well – however you want to read it).  This is important – especially in potentially crazy economic times – to remember that He will provide what we need, when we need it.  My problem is that one word… “WHEN”, usually my definition and his definition are not the same – in fact – they rarely are.

It’s all about His timing, His will, His call on my life.  I only have to have the same attitude as Abraham.

“I don’t know WHERE or HOW He’s asked me to do it, but I will be ready, immediately.”

The Tent and The Altar

Gen 12-13

So Abram sets out after his call and God meets with him personally to assure him of his calling.  How cool is that?  After that meeting, Abram builds an altar to the Lord. (v7)

Then Abram goes to Egypt and deceives Pharoah about who Sarai is.  We all know the story.  One of the commentaries I read made an interesting point about this:

What a shame that believing Abraham should be rebuked by an unbelieving king. Until he knew the truth about Sarah, Pharaoh “bestowed favors” upon Abraham, but once God stepped in and exposed the lie, Pharaoh had to ask them to leave. What a poor testimony the Christian is when he or she mingles with the world and compromises. Someone has said, “Faith is living without scheming.” Abraham and all his descendants have needed to learn that lesson! Lot lived with the world and lost his testimony (19:12–14); and Peter sat by the enemy fire and denied his Lord.

Wiersbe, W. W. (1993). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the Old Testament (Ge 12:1). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
Then after that debacle, Abram goes back to the place where he built the first altar. (Gen 13:1-4)

1 Then Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, to the South. 2 Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. 3 And he went on his journey from the South as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, 4 to the place of the altar which he had made there at first. And there Abram called on the name of the Lord.

I totally relate to this.  How many men have longed to go back to Hunt, or to the place of their Quest where – perhaps for the first time – they really met face to face with God?  Man, I long to be there… in His presence… in that place.  That’s one of the reasons I love to serve on Quests.  From that same commentary:

Abraham could not have confessed his sin and remained in Egypt! No, he had to get back to the place of the tent and the altar, back to the place where he could call upon the Lord and receive blessing. This is a good principle for Christians to follow: go nowhere in this world where you must leave your testimony behind. Any place where we cannot build the altar and pitch the tent is out of bounds.

Great thought to live by…  “Any place we cannot build the altar and pitch the tent is out of bounds.”  In his commentary, Wiersby describes the tent as the pilgrim, the person who trusts God a day at a time and is always ready to move.  He describes the altar as the worshiper who brings a sacrifice and offers it to God.

Restated,  “…any place we cannot worship and offer God our sacrifice and be ready to move in complete trust of Him is no place for the Christ follower.”

Building and pitching…

Expecting the unexpected

Isaiah 55:6-9 (ESV)

6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;
7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

This morning I woke up with a word from the Lord. “Expect the unexpected.” I’ve been praying about what that means and what it pertains to, whether it is a word for me, for our family, or a word about the upcoming Quest. It’s not a warning of impending doom or some omnious caution, but an exhortation to keep my (our) eyes open and my ears attentive to Him.  He will work and He will work however He wants to work… I can’t look for him to show up only how I expect him to or to work in my life in one and only one way, for “as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts,” declares the Lord.

Thank you Lord that you are not predicable and that you are not limited by me.  Help me Lord to be attentive to your word and be ready to serve you in a moments notice.

Sent with a purpose

Romans 10:13-15a

13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent?

Paul lists a backward progression to the salvation of all. The meaning of the word “call on him” means to place their trust in; to identify themselves with.

Someone must be “sent,” which implies for a particular purpose, in order to “preach.” “Preach,” is the same word as “proclaim” found in verse 8, “...the word of faith that we proclaim.”

Someone preaches in order that others might hear and believe.

When someone hears and believes, then and only then can they call on the name of the Lord and be saved.

So what? That’s great! I’m not the one who is to be “sent” with a purpose! It’s easy for me to say “that’s not my job or calling.” I’m not an evangelist. My spiritual gifts don’t include evangelism or mission work.

Ah… but wait. I Tim 4:2 says “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” Notice there is no qualifying statement around it – check the references.

I am to be prepared in season and out of season. Convincing, rebuking, exhorting… that sounds a lot like being “sent” – to be sent with a purpose. In season and out of season, i.e. all the time, I am to be prepared with a purpose for proclaiming the Truth. What is the Truth? Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. (John 14:6)

In the wit and wisdom on Golden Child… “What does that look like?

For me it is being in His presence daily. What about you?

A long way to go…

Romans 5:6-8 (NLT)

6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. 7 Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

A simple thought.  It’s would be easy (ok… maybe not easy, but easier) to sacrifice myself for someone we deem or see as significant… a pastor, a family member, a friend.  It would even be mentally justifiable to sacrifice myself for a “regular” person.  But as I read this passage, the Lord gave me a vision of sacrificing myself for what we call the “scum” of society.  Would I sacrifice myself and forever impact the future of my family, for a child molester?  for a doctor who performs abortions? for a genecidal maniac like Saddam Huessien or Osama Bin Laden?

If I’m honest with myself, and honest with God, I could not do it.  Even if God himself stood in front of me and in an audible voice commanded me to… I’m not sure I could do it.

But He needs me to be in that kind of place spiritually.  He needs me to be that broken, obedient and loving.  That’s exactly the place Jesus was at.  That’s exactly the place he was when he crawled onto the cross.  That’s exactly the place Stephen was as they were hurling stones at him.

I am not there.

I have a very long way to go…

Selfless Obedience

In Job 38-42, God himself “questions” Job.  Questions is a really, really, nice way to say that God got all up in Job’s business and attitude.  In a series of questions, God describes himself, well, really he describes his works.  Slowly digesting each question that God asks Job is a very “awe-ing” time.  It filled me with wonder and gave me a fresh perspective on God’s hugeness, power, and majesty.

In Job 42:7-10 (click to read), it isn’t until Job prays FOR his friends – these same three friends who have accused, berated, and wrecklessly represented the Lord for 30+ chapters – that God restores to Job all Job lost in the trials (v10).

Two things struck me:

1.  Not until Job took his eyes off his own misery and trouble, did God restore and end his misery and trouble.  Job had to minister and be concerned with others… even those who he most likely wasn’t very pleased with at the time.  Personally, I’d have been ticked at them and wanted to curse them instead of pray for them.

2.  Just as God allowed the trials and circumstances surrounding Job’s troubles and losses, He also orchestrated Job’s praying for his friends and his own ultimate restortation.  God addresses these friends in v7 and tells them that Job has to pray for them.  This gets Job’s eyes off his own troubles (after he’s had a correction in his attitude and his own significance) and on to praying for his friends.  Isn’t it just like Father to send what we need our way?

And this is the point for me.  In the midst of trials -whatever form they take – I need to continue to be aware and look for those opportunities to do God’s bidding, regardless of how I feel at the time, and regardless of how I feel about who I am ministering to.

I am to be on guard for God opportunities… be aware for what He’s doing around me and join in on His work… Ephesians 2:10 (The Message)He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

I wrote a blog a few months ago about this verse in Ephesians.  See it here.  Interesting… different passages… same lesson.  Who says God’s word isn’t alive?