Tuesday, May 24, 2005

called to belong

"Called to belong to Christ...loved by God...called to be saints": these words of the apostle Paul speak loudly about identity and purpose. Most of the time I get lost in my own world, pursuing my own tangents and ideas (sometimes getting it right and other times wrong). The weight is on me to find perfection, and I always fall short.
But these 3 phrases from a brief passage of his letter to Rome (the nations) call for a completely different path. My identity is in Christ, and the only way I can stand before Him holy, as a saint, is through His work--the life, death and resurrection of Christ. I love because I have been loved. I do not fear because fear itself has been conquered through Christ. I am not only freed from sin, but freed to extend this love to the world around me as well. The Gospel values me as an individual, but cannot get stuck just looking at me...I am an instrument in the outward expansion of His kingdom.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

God's faithfulness

"As for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness...answer me, O LORD, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me." (from the 69th Psalm)
In the midst of deep suffering and despair, David found hope with these words. He saw the way other people looked at him and talked of him, calling him a fool; yet he went to the Lord and spoke truth into his heart and mind. God's timing is outside of our understanding. His ways are not ours, and His end is hard for us to consistently believe--but they are what we are made for! We must patiently speak truth into our own hearts, believing the Gospel over and over again. God is abundant in steadfast love and faithfulness, especially when we are not.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

steadfast love and faithfulness

These two ideas/fruits are found over and over again throughout God's Word. Particularly in the Psalms (though they bear similarity to the Epistle's "grace and peace"), they are used to describe God's character. Unless we wrap our arms--at least open them up--around these traits, we cannot know God. He IS faithfulness. He keeps His promises and covenants. He cannot be unfaithful. Likewise He is steadfast love...not temporary love or floundering love, but hard-core, purposeful love. Love that never fails because it is perfect. Love as a means and an end. These words humble any sensible man, yet they are also the very words of hope to cling to with every breath we take.

Monday, May 09, 2005

hope and expectations

As we prepare for a family trip to Iowa for a wedding, I recall a discussion with some other fellas about hope and expectations...which tie into faith in the end. Because of the fall of man in the garden of Eden, we face the reality of poor expectations. We set ourselves up for disappointment, because our hearts seek fulfillment and we try to find it in the things of this world as well as the truth of the Gospel (rather than solely being united in God's will and desires).
With the chaos of family coming together from around the nation for this great occasion, we have 2 options: to approach the week trying to keep everything and everyone together (which may keep "peace", but also leads to inner frustration, gossip, pent up emotions) , or to seek joy and delight in our time together even if it means some disagreements and not always getting along. After all, as family, we are united by blood and have commitment to each other beyond just getting along...why not embrace each other in that truth and seek to bring God's kingdom to bear--even in part--by truly loving each other well.
Now things aren't a disaster...in fact, it is a beautiful season in the family. But my expectations affect the way I treat others and my overall countenance, my confidence exhibited in my faith. Real hope is built on expectations of God's kingdom to come, not the one on earth. Faith is the certainty of what we hope for, the conviction of what we cannot see. I trust that God will do miracles and show His mercy this week as He has for centuries and promises to continue to do in the future; For His glory, not mine.

Thursday, May 05, 2005


Rebellion is one of the many things our hearts run to instinctively. It is often a companion to selfishness, pride, and fear; an effect or consequence related to them. I easily narrow my view of rebellion to a plotting and pursuit of disobedience. But I rarely see it as plainly as revealed to the Israelites...the lareger picture is that rebellion can only reside where the hope and truth in the Gospel is not being proclaimed. Rebellion is stirred as doubts and fears are promoted and grow. Therefore the only defense is reallyintended to be offense--that we are so busy proclaiming the Word of God by mouth and in action that we have no time or need to rebel. This is our hearts' true desire, the thing we are made for, and may it be so today and tomorrow more than yesterday.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

manna and quail

I picture myself in the midst of the Israelites. God has brought us out of Egypt, the deep suffering and loneliness, and is giving us a home and restoring our identity. We are starving, and God in His mercy gives us manna, the bread of heaven unique for God's people. He gives us exactly what we need to fulfill the longing within. His faithfulness endures and provision continues for months. It satisfies.
Yet a year later we start moving our camp around and we grumble for something more...God's specific provision in a dry land is not enough any longer. His gift specifically for His people--manna--has lost its fulness in our hearts and stomachs. Our hearts are as hungry and devouring as our stomachs.
So God gives us what we want, which is meat (tangibly). But He sends a flood of quail instead of a little, and in giving us exactly what we really desire--not what we need--we see the frailty of our desires and hearts. He has revealed our selfish craving, which is different from a true hunger.

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