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Showing posts from June, 2011

Trusting God

Today's reading were from Psalms 17 - 20. I love the 19th Psalm. It has a way of wrapping up trust, faith in both simplicity and awe. "The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living. Reverence for the Lord is pure, lasting forever. The laws of the Lord are true; each one is fair. They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb." (Psalm 19:7-10 NLT) Here the Psalmist says what each of our souls say...there is something outside of ourselves to lean on. We are not alone, without a guide to life. God is life and truth. He revives, makes wise, brings joy, gives insight. He is pure in his motives, fair in his judgments, and sweet in his Spirit. The beauty of the Lord is not foun

Doubt & Faith, Part 2, "I Believe"

Today's readings were in Psalms 8 - 16. Here's a good thing to do once in a while. Complete the sentence that begins "I believe..." I've been continuing to think about what it means to press on through times confusion and doubt. What is it "I believe" when life turns in an ugly direction? Let's be clear...sometimes it will. "When we wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are...your dreams come true..." Don't we wish it was always that way? The clearest thing about each of us is our capacity for hope. It takes a lot of negative, a lot of despair, a lot of hurt and pain to diminish hope. Each of us is created with a God-oriented hope inside of us. That hope operates like a level, seeking to balance off the everyday junk that makes us sometimes sad, sometimes angry, often times wondering "where are you God?" What do I/You believe? Madeline L`Engle said: "Those who believe in God, but without passion of h

Doubt and Faith, pt 1

Today's readings from Scripture were Psalms 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. I am reading some material from John Ortberg who wrote "Faith and Doubt". I just noticed I reversed the order in my title...oh well. I find the read really good, mainly because of how "real" he is with a subject that can't help make many of us as Christians feel quite uncomfortable from time to time. After all, who wants to say out loud, "sometimes I'm just not sure what to believe"? Let me clear, honest, and transparent...I have times of troubling doubt. I am like the little girl who asked, "If God loves us so much, why doesn't he make us happy all of the time?". And we know that part of the answer is in realizing that happiness is not necessarily a "God-goal". Philip Yancey has written a lot on this the point that some Christians have wondered about his own faith...I'm not one of them. One thing Yancey pointed out in h

Pressing through Doubt

I am still reading through the scriptures - or should I say "slugging" through it. Sometimes it's easy to read the scriptures. It seems so alive with story, hope, faith, love, grandeur, the glory of God. Sometimes it is not. Sometimes it is filled with questions. There are questions of "why would you include this in the scripture?", "what is the value of this?", "I don't understand any of what this is about." I know there are some people who claim they never struggle with scripture - that it is only light and life - but I cannot say that. As I've read over the Prophets - today's reading was in Zechariah 7 - 14 - I am struck by the harsh tone, the predictive judgments, the language and lack of faith, hope and love. It is a reason why some people simply avoid this section of scripture. It's almost a passive form of saying, "I don't believe God wrote this section." There are also people who want to make th

Navigating the Storms

Today I've been reading Nahum and Habakkuk. Both of these prophets have short letters written. Nahum is strong and positive in his outlook. Yes, Israel and Judah have suffered, been invaded, exiled and scourged, but those who did this (Assyria) will get their due and Israel will be restored. If we were living during this time we'd be tempted to salute and applaud Nahum's words. Habakkuk is more troubled. He is asking God the questions we all ask - WHY? Why is this all happening? Why is God allowing the troubles and even (seemingly) ignoring the pain? Most of us have had times where we found ourselves in the "storm" and didn't know whether or not we'd make it out. That storm can be physical pain, disease, financial problems, even political confusion, but the nature of each is the confusion, the endless thinking about what to do next, the sense of lostness - can't find the way out. Navigating storms is an art. Habakkuk leads us through this an

Easy Believism

Hi friends, I've been "off-line" for a few days...the result of some rather busy things in life...some very enjoyable, like our 40th wedding anniversary, and some just plain busy in work - like pastoring a church and teaching a college class. I'm still reading through the scriptures...but I am in the prophets - today it was Micah 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. One has to have perseverance to continue to read the Prophets. There's not much good news, and when you find one (like today's Micah 5:2) you find it as a gem in the midst of a lot of weeds. I admit, it's not a section of scripture that I "just love to read". I'm reading a couple of books right now: "Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy" is a well written biography of his life, and as well, his thoughts on Christ in life. The other book is some collected works of Bonhoeffer's writings - "A Testament to Freedom: The Essential Writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer" - whic

The Law of Love

Today I read from Exodus 18, 19, 20 and 1 Cor. 13:1-7 The relationship God had with the children of Israel was based on a God-Visioned purpose: "Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.” A Kingdom of Priests God's holy nation This was no paltry vision of people being "good people", "nice to others". There's nothing wrong with being good and nice, but God's vision is much bigger than that. He sees in Israel a nation of people who function as priests - "come boldly to the throne of grace" the book of Hebrew says. Priests come to God - first for their own sins, and then for the sins of others. Priests come to God to ask, intercede, share, pray, love and worship. Priests come to God to learn. The law is a pictur

The Problem and the Promise

Today's reading is from Ezekiel 9, 10, 11, 12 The nation went into exile, taken captive by the Babylonians because of their persistent Idolatry. God sent prophets over and over again to tell them what the problem was: ""Son of man, you are living among a rebellious people. They have eyes to see but do not see and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious people." Rebellion is simply choosing to ignore and choosing to not see. Ask Coach Tressel of Ohio State if that works. We usually think of rebellion as outrageous actions, or radicalized behavior; but it need not be demonstrative to be so. All we need to do is choose to ignore and not see. In rebellion, God is still seeking. He comes to the captives and speaks words of promise in order to encourage them and call them to faithfulness even though they are dispersed from the land. ""Therefore say: 'This is what the Sovereign lord says: Although I sent them far away among the nati