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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Humility

I am currently in a series with my church and growth group that is a read through of the prophets of the Old Testament.  This is not an easy series.  The prophets had a job that was rough, sometimes very bizarre, and did not always include an easy message.

God is constantly bringing conviction in these books.  He is saying "This is wrong.  There is no justice in that.  I will bring destruction..."  But then there are the breaks.  When He talks about restoration and promises to save a remnant and bring healing to His people.

You know how we like to pick and choose what we think about or what we focus on?  Imagine what it must have been like for these prophets.  They were surrounded with constant reminders of the worst of humanity as they tried to bring God's message of Justice through to the people.  I wonder how hard it was for them, especially when they had to do strange things.  I feel for Hosea as he went back to a wife who was constantly cheating on him.  I wonder how Isaiah felt as God told him to spend 3 years naked just to make a point.  They didn't get to choose how they spread their message or what their message said.  They just had to do it.

Right now our world is in a world of hurt.  It is so easy to see where others are wrong without seeing our own sins.  We each get so upset about the difficulties we feel we are faced with that we don't see what the other person is facing.

Did you know that there are people out there dying and being put in prison for what they believe in or for their lifestyle?  Did you know that there are millions of people currently being held in slavery?  One thing that I've noticed reading through Isaiah is that God finds sins in everyone.  He brings judgement on all people, regardless of their nationality, sexual orientation, religion, or whatever else. 

We know that Christ has fulfilled a provision of grace and even gone as far as to be a substitution for us on the Cross, if we will simply believe in Him, accept Him, and walk in repentance.  Instead of getting proud of ourselves as we know "right from wrong" by reading His word, let us also be honest about our own sins and change. Let us live with grace, neither supporting the sins of others nor treating them like dirt.  Healing this world starts with humble repentance as well as help to others.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Spiderman, Drugs, Truth and Love

Today I contemplated something that happened in the comic book industry many years ago in the 1970s.  The government approached Stan Lee about writing a Spiderman comic that educated youth about the dangers of drugs and joined in the battle against such evils.  At that time the Comics Code forbade any mention of drugs.  The Code refused to give its approval for the comic because it mentioned drugs, despite the message that taking them was wrong and dangerous. So what did Stan Lee and Marvel do?  They published Spiderman #96 without the approval of the Code simply by not putting the Code's Seal of Approval on the cover.  This was so effective in the fight against drugs, that it led to a change in the Comics Code.  I honestly believe that they got so focused on their strategies, that they forgot their overall mission, which was to oversee the Comics Industry so that the entertainment found in it was healthy and family friendly.  Isn't a warning about drugs important for health?  Doesn't a comic provide a great chance for parents and kids to talk about these issues?

This makes me wonder about how we do things in the Church.  How often do we get so focused on strategies or truth that we actually fail in expressing the grace and love of Christ?  Do we need to call sin by its real name of sin?  Absolutely!  But we also need to do so in a way which is loving and grace filled.  Yet sometimes we go the opposite direction.  We are scared of pointing sin out but keep trying to express a sentimental love around that doesn't challenge people to grow in Christ.

Jesus was never afraid to call people out about sin.  He told the woman caught in adultery to "go and sin no more" and he kicked out the merchants who were taking advantage of travelers to the temple with high prices.  Yet despite this he was called a "friend of sinners".  He never backed down from calling sin what it is but had amazing relationships with everyone around Him.  This sometimes can be a little confusing, but Jesus is always there to help us.  He has thousands of years of experience in doing this so learning from Him is certainly a great idea.



Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Luke, Vader, and Love

Love "...holds no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."  1 Corinthians 13

So yesterday I watched Star Wars Episode VI, Return of the Jedi.  I recently picked up the blue-ray set of the full saga and had this last one to watch.

I find the issue of Luke confronting Vader interesting.  It seems Yoda thought confronting him meant fighting/killing him.  Luke did not take to that.  He looked for any bit of goodness in his father and in the end he found it; even though it meant Luke had to approach death to find it, he found it.  Saving Luke's life may not have been much compared to the years of killing and hunting Jedi, but it was a beginning.

Whether or not someone pursues righteousness is their choice and the reality is that people do not always make that choice.  Paul was not asking us to be ignorant or naive.  Simply to know that we should look for the best in people.  How can you do that today?