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Showing posts from August, 2010

The Body Box

"The temple I am going to build will be great, because our God is greater than all other gods. But who is able to build a temple for him, since the heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain him? Who then am I to build a temple for him, except as a place to burn sacrifices before him" –2 Chronicles 2:5, 6, NIV.

Despite having the very best materials and all the resources in the world to create the most beautiful, sumptuous house for God, Solomon realizes that even his best efforts would pale in comparison with the greatness of God.

As I read these verses my mind immediately turned to the new "temple" in which God now dwells. The New Testament contains several references to the believer as God's temple. "Don't you know" writes Paul in 1 Corinthians 16, NIV, "that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?" Just a few chapters later Paul says it again: "Do you not know that your body is the temp…

Dedicated to Detail

I sympathized with a gal I met recently who told me that she was having a tough time reading through Chronicles in her daily devotions. It's true, there are parts of the Bible that are difficult to plough through, and even more difficult to apply. I didn't ask her, but she might be reading her way through my book, Divine Design for Daily Living because I got to read 1 Chronicles 27-29 in my quiet time this morning as well.

David has come to the end of his earthly life. He is "getting his house in order" as they say, as he prepares to take that journey from the temporal to the eternal.

There are several things that stand out for me in these chapters but I think the most significant this morning is the reminder that God is in the details.

David was to leave his heir apparent,  Solomon, a pretty full basket of goodies. Chapter 27 lists all the officials and all their duties. Solomon's team was in place. Chapter 28 finds David turning over his plans for the temple th…

Acknowledging the Path

I've had The Principle of the Path, by Andy Stanley for a while now and my long trip south on the train provided me with a golden opportunity to read it. The subtitle explains the premise of the book: How to get from where you are to where you want to be.

That was Friday. On Saturday night I was working through my head what I needed to say at the church I was to speak at on Sunday morning. To be perfectly truthful I was still struggling as the congregation stood to begin their worship time that morning.

Then it all fell into place. So much of the Scripture that was read and the songs that were sung hooked onto the basic idea behind the book. One particular verse reached out and went "ping" in my mind.

It was the story of the path that needed to be told.

Since the paths we choose result in an inevitable end—and oftentimes an end we didn't want, Stanley's reference to the famous words of Solomon in Proverbs 3:6 make perfect sense.

"In all your ways ackno…

Breaking The Habit

I took time this morning to run over to our local Public Health Unit to pick up some information on smoking.

No, I don't smoke. But I do know quite a few people who do.

Lest you think I am picking on smokers, or about to display a "holier-than-thou" attitude because I don't smoke, let me reassure you that such is not the case.

Anything, whatever it might be, that controls us and that we can't leave behind, avoid, or resist, is something that needs dealing with. Smoking just happens to be what I was talking to a friend about last night. She's quit before and now says that she can't quit again. Somehow it seems much harder to do this time. As we were talking, a familiar story that Jesus once told came to my mind.

"When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. T…

When Prayer Is Answered But Not Obeyed

Right on the heels of yesterday's post on Zedekiah's efforts to manipulate God comes another lesson on prayer. I won't tell you the whole story, but encourage you to read Jeremiah 40-42 so that you have the background.

To summarize, a bunch of army officers asked Jeremiah to: "Pray that the Lord your God will tell us where we should go and what we should do...May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act in accordance with everything the Lord your God sends you to tell us. Whether it be favorable or unfavourable, we will obey the Lord our God, to whom we are sending you, so that it will go well with us, for we will obey the Lord our God" –Jeremiah 42:3, 5, 6, NIV.

Can't you just hear the "amens" rolling off your tongue? What a great prayer!

Except that when, ten days later, Jeremiah delivered God's answer, the officers refused to obey God's instructions. When it came down to it they were afraid to trust God with the…

When Prayer Might Not Be Enough

Prayer doesn't always change things.

Take Zedekiah as a prime example. The King of Judah contacts Jeremiah and makes a logical request: "Please pray to the Lord our God for us" –Jeremiah 37:3, NIV. Great tactic particularly when threatened by enemies about to destroy your city and take you into captivity in a foreign country. 

Small problem.

Just prior to noting the request, the Scripture says of Zedekiah: "Neither he nor his attendants nor the people of the land paid any attention to the words the Lord had spoken through Jeremiah the prophet" –Jeremiah 37:2, NIV.

I was instantly reminded of a man in Venezuela who asked us to pray for him. He was going through a difficult time financially and, as we discovered later, involved in a complicated interpersonal relationship challenge (i.e. cheating on his wife).  I confess I hesitated to pray for him because I doubted that my prayers would get much farther than the ceiling.

Like Zedekiah, he wasn't planning on …

Missing in Action Generation

I had an interesting conversation with our pastor yesterday. He's reading Goodbye Generation by David Sawler. Apparently the book explains why young people who have grown up in the church, so often abandon all connection with their heritage when they reach young adulthood.

I'm sure there is much more to the discussion than this, but one thing struck a chord with me in our discussion. Let me explain.

One of the points made in the book is that as young people experiment with the world and fall into sin, they feel more comfortable walking away from the church because, even when their background has been strongly evangelical and faith-based, these young people feel that they have not lived up to the standards of goodness expected by the church. Coupled with the feeling that they will be judged by other believers for their forays into the dark side, they simply stop coming to church.

That there are judgmental people in the church is an unhappy reality. Some people think of the chur…

Fast, Furious...and Faulty

I'm working furiously on the course on the Book of Romans that I will be teaching in the fall. I don't mean to be sloppy but time constraints press upon me and I hurry to get as much done over the summer as I can. I read over my last chapter of work yesterday and wasn't entirely pleased about the flow of the material. Part of me whispered: "Let it go, you don't have time to go back and tweek." Another part of me delivered an entirely different message. I don't doubt the theology part, but how it's explained is a little rough. It'll do. So I quiet that other voice that says it won't do at all.

This morning as I was reading in Jeremiah I came to the passage where Jeremiah rebukes the prophets and priests for telling lies, for altering the truth to suit their fancy, for not delivering the message the people really needed to hear but "tickling their ears" with what they wanted to hear. God's prophet doesn't skimp on the details:

A Tree is a Tree is a Tree

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I wonder if Jeremiah and David ever had a chuckle in heaven over the trees? Many years separated their individual appearances on the stage of history and although their roles were very different, the king and the prophet thought alike about some things (cross-pollination on the part of the Holy Spirit).

In my reading from Jeremiah this morning, I thought I could hear David's laughter.

"But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit" –Jeremiah 17:7, 8, NIV.

Sound familiar? Jeremiah almost had to ask permission of David's descendants to quote the psalmist's famous lines from Psalm 1. Of course, God holds the copyright so probably getting permission wasn't an issue.

For Jeremiah's audience, life was about to take a tur…

A Path Well Traveled

A few weeks ago I posted an article about people I had met. Several of you commented that you wanted to know more, particularly about the young woman who is constantly walking around the block in the area of the church where I work. She has Down's Syndrome and I wondered why she was always out on the street. Yesterday, as I was heading to church, I saw her out walking and took the time to slow down to her pace and talk to her a little.

It turns out that she does 14 laps of the neighbourhood in the morning and another 14 laps in the afternoon because she is trying to lose weight. I discovered where she lived (having observed her in her yard with her parents the day before while I was heading downtown). Her well-worn path through the neighbourhood has made her a fixture that you can set your watch by. She never deviates from her path.

This little episode fit very well into my readings from Jeremiah yesterday. One particular verse jumped out from the page. "This is what the Lord…

When God Calls In A Debt

It's one of those conundrums of Scripture, a contradiction where there shouldn't be one, a crack in God's armour, a flaw in his character.

Isn't he the one who is infinite in love, mercy and patience?

That being true, then how can the Scriptures say: "…and the Lord was not willing to forgive" —2 Kings 24:4, NIV?

I can't remember how many times people have reacted to those early verses in Exodus where the Scriptures tell us that the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart so that he would not repent and allow Israel to leave Egypt. No one likes that idea and there is always push back when it comes to entertaining the notion that God might not be infinite in mercy or patience, a situation which, for some, calls into question whether or not he is infinite in love.

In the passage in 2 Kings, Josiah has died. He had been warned, as had Hezekiah, that Jerusalem was going to be overrun and Judah devastated, her people taken into captivity in Babylon. Sparing good King…

No Matter What, Blessed Be Your Name

Ahhhh, life has returned to normal. The kitties were active very early this morning so guess who was up? Rather than just lie there, I turned on the bedside lamp and read the Scripture assigned for today. Habakkuk is only three chapters long, tucked away among the lesser known books of the prophets. Most people don't find it in their lifetimes, much less learn to spell it correctly. But it's extremely relevant if only because the prophet asks the same questions many of us do.

Habakkuk's first concern is why God doesn't punish evil. Then when God announces to him that He is going to send Babylon to punish Judah, Habakkuk wonders why God is sending an even more evil nation to punish His people for their evil. In the end the prophet concludes that he needs to trust God that even when everything is bleak, black, and bad, there is reason to rejoice in the Lord because: "The Sovereign Lord is my strength, he makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to go on …

Stryrofoam Sins

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I'm not sure how much styrofoam I've used in my lifetime. To tell the truth I don't want to know because I'm sure I would be thoroughly embarrassed and ashamed. I suppose it was the recent horrendous oil spill in the Gulf that triggered an acute sense of concern for the world that God intended for me to take care of.

That's why styrofoam has grown sharp fangs and bad breath and demands that I remove its ugly puss from my sight. Recently I discovered a treasure-trove of new china stashed away under the staircase that leads to the fire exit in our church. Apparently no one has used the dishes because no one wants to wash them. Instead we help to flood the landfills with styrofoam cups and plates that won't biodegrade in our lifetime—perhaps not even in the lifetime of our children.

This morning I was reading part of the story of Hezekiah from 2 Kings. After the king had been granted fifteen extra years of life (that turned out to be a REALLY bad idea), Hezekiah s…