Monday, January 24, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Genesis 28:12

And [Jacob] dreamed that
there was a ladder set up on the earth,
the top of it reaching to heaven;
and the angels of God were
ascending and descending on it.
Genesis 28:12
In my head, I always picture this scene as "Jacob's Ladder."
Some translations render it as a "stairway ... to heaven" (NLT), surely reminding some of the legendary rock-n-roll anthem.
Perhaps a better image than either a ladder or stairway is the Cross of Christ! Jesus himself hinted at this truth in John 1. Jesus drew Nathanael into his circle of disciples by speaking prophetically," but then he said, 
"50 Do you believe because I told you
that I saw you under the fig tree?
You will see greater things than these.
51 You will see heaven opened and
the angels of God ascending and
descending upon the Son of Man."
Jesus is the link between heaven and earth -- not a ladder, not a staircase, and only the cross symbolically.
The same truth, though, is proclaimed in both Genesis and John: A link between heaven and earth has been established by God. He wants a relationship with Jacob. He wants a relationship with Nathanael. He wants a relationship with you.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who's ridden a skylift to Purgatory (a ski hill)
but finds more purpose on the stairway to heaven
I wish ... I wish I could go to heaven to see my son and others. I wish there was a true tangible stairway, escalator, ski lift to heaven so we could make sure they were ok. To get a glimpse of what we are supposed to be striving for. I wish God would be as real to us now as he was them. As tangible.  I wish someone would grab my hand, hang on and make sure I know without a doubt that heaven will wait. That Luke is wonderful. That Jesus cares.

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Genesis 27:41

Esau hated Jacob because
he had stolen his blessing,
and he said to himself,
"My father will soon be dead and gone.
Then I will kill Jacob."
Genesis 27:41
And blame. Blame! Esau blamed everything on Jacob.
Jacob was indeed a schemer. And Jacob did indeed trick his father and did outright rob Esau of his birthright. But ... we must not forget that Esau played his own role in losing this gift. He sold his own birthright for a bowl of stew.
How often is that true of us? Others may indeed lie and trick and steal, but how often have we played a role in our own downfalls?
When we lie to ourselves and play the total victim, hatred, bitterness, and unforgiveness grow in our hearts ... maybe even murder (even if it's only a desire to assassinate the other person's character through gossip).
Who's on your hit list? Who might you need to forgive ... in order to set yourself free. 
In Christ's Love,
a guy who has no one else to blame
for his weaknesses and defeats
I have been doing a bible study recently and the topic of forgiveness is huge.  And difficult. There are three types of forgiveness - others, self and God.  Admittedly - I have the most trouble with forgiving myself for allowing others to hurt me. And for what I have done to hurt others. 

I don't think that forgiving myself, God and others will free me from anything. Mostly because I have no idea how to forgive myself.  But this is talking about the bitterness that grows from hating others. Not being able to forgive others. I recently wrote a letter to someone who I've harbored bitterness for for the past almost 7 years.  It was a very hard letter to write and almost harder to send. It was a letter giving forgiveness to the person for an act that happened that was due to her simply being human - not viciousness. not intentionality. just an honest, horrifying mistake that completely changed my life - forever. And also asking forgiveness for the bitterness I have held.  I did not include my contact information. I don't know their reaction to the letter, but I do know it was the right thing to do.  

Has doing this set me free? No. But it has helped me to think of this person with out a tightening knot in my stomach.

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Genesis 25:29-31

Once when Jacob was cooking a stew,
Esau came in from the field, and he was famished.
Esau said to Jacob, "Let me eat
some of that red stuff, for I am famished!"
Jacob said, "First sell me your birthright."
Genesis 25:29-31
This story, in part, is the history of how the line of Abraham and Isaac passed through Jacob (the second born) instead of Esau (the first born).
But let's make it even simpler. Let's call this a story about temptation. Esau was hungry. He was, in other words, vulnerable. When we are hungry, tired, anxious, or worried, we are vulnerable. Very vulnerable.
When we are hungry, tired, anxious, or worried, wisdom doesn't guide us. Values don't guide us. And truth doesn't even guide us -- because when our emotions are controlling us, it is much harder to hear God.
The point?! Don't allow yourself to get too tired, too hungry, or too vulnerable.
Also seek the necessary truth, encouragement, and spiritual protection so that you will not be vulnerable anxiety, worry, and fear.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who's continually discovering
how to balance his life
so he's not too hungry for stew
There is a saying in recovery circles, "HALT" that stands for hungry, angry, lonely and tired.  When you are one of those, you are to stop. Regroup. Not make any major decisions. 

There is another one that is similar, "HEART" that stands for Hurting, Exhausted, Angry, Resentful, Tense.  When you are one of these, you are to stop, evaluate, pray and try to cease or avoid what is causing those feelings. 

Esau was hungry and tired/exhausted.  Not a good time to make major decisions, yet he did. I am guilty of it to. I have been most of the above emotions 24/7 for over a year and it is wearing me down. I know I am in no position to make major decisions. Yet in life as a working mother and wife, you have to. And they aren't always the right ones.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Genesis 22:1-3

God tested Abraham ... sa[ying],
"Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love,
and go to the land of Moriah,
and offer him there as a burnt offering ..."
So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey.
Genesis 22:1-3
This is such a rich story.
And such a horrifying story.
First a little texture from these first three verses: 1) God tested Abraham ... which means, perhaps he tests us too. 2) Abraham obeyed immediately ... and perhaps we should too. 3) But what's this about sacrificing your own son?!!!
It is an understandably abhorrent thought to most of us that God would ever call us to sacrifice our own child. But here's what you need to know about this story to make it make sense: 1) God did NOT ask Abraham to go through with this sacrifice, 2) but all the other "gods" of the world did.
Who are "all the other 'gods'"? It is pure evil that brings about the shedding of innocent blood. The true God showed powerfully on top of Mt. Moriah that he would never, ever demand the sacrifice of a child. He will always, always provide a substitute for our blood.
And here on this mountain was a powerful foreshadowing of God's love and God's eternal plan. In place of Isaac was a ram / a lamb. This pointed forward to the Passover, where God's people were spared by the sacrifice of a lamb. And this pointed forward to the cross, where God's people -- you and me -- were spared by the loving sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.
Human blood does not need to be shed. God -- in his love -- always provides a substitute. Isaac lived ... and so do you and I!
In Christ's Love,
a guy who likes lamb
I picture Sarah waiting - not so patiently - at home. I am sure she knew why Abraham was taking Isaac with him.  Her only son! My heart breaks for her ... as a mom who lost her only biological son. I would have been in a puddle on the floor, clinging to Abraham's ankles, begging him not to take Isaac. Pleading with God for another way. Any way. 

Maybe it wasn't JUST Abraham's obedience, but maybe it was also Sarah back home pleading with God to spare her only son - who was such a gift. a result of a promise from God. Maybe it took both for the lamb to appear ... Sarah is one person I am looking forward to chatting with one day.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Radical" by David Platt

 I tend to steer away from the trendy and popular books. I think that all too often they are full of fluff and people are hoping to get a quick fix from them - which is never the case and which is why another trendy book keeps popping up for us to spend our money on. Then I received a copy of Radical by David Platt.

Several close friends had mentioned it as life changing and thought provoking. I rolled my eyes. Then I started reading it with a pen in hand. I wrote notes in the margins, underlined phrases and basically gulped down the book in the matter of a couple of days.  His desire is clear - for all people in the world to hear about Christ.  As the pastor of a mega-church, he admits that he is living a life contrary to what he is teaching, but also talks about ways he is changing his current life-style. 

Platt begins by asking us if we are going to believe Jesus and if we are going to obey Jesus.  Are we defining our lives by the bible or by our culture's interpretation of what the bible says?  Platt describes visits to China where Christians risk friends, family and life to study and worship together - and they do it gladly!  Here in America, we get annoyed if the pastor runs five minutes over and we have to wait at our favorite restaurant for a table.  Jesus called his followers to abandon everything. EVERYTHING! To follow him.  Platt challenges us to do that today ... if we can. if we dare.

One striking illustration was from a denomination newsletter where there was an article about a 23 million dollar new building dedication alongside an article about donations that were raised to help refugees in Sudan - a grand total of 5 thousand dollars.  How does that make any sense???

Platt contends that we have watered down the gospel to fit our lifestyles.  He states, "We are afraid that if we stop and really look at God in his word, we might discover that he evokes greater awe and demands deeper worship that we are ready to give him."  Throughout the gospel, Jesus is helping others and teaching his followers how to help others. Platt emphasizes that this isn't about simply sending a check. It is about prayer and being there.

As the pastor of a megachurch - he clearly recognizes the danger of these churches to become entertainment for people. A place to lost in the crowd. To come, sit listen, check it off your list and go home.  But he also knows that authentic faith can come from any church. Jesus built his ministry in a group of 12 men. Any church can grow disciples in small groups and send them out to multiply into more groups and keep going.

Much of the book is focused on the fact that we need to minister more to the poor of the world. Yes- we need to minister to the poor in our local area too, but there are 1.5 billion (yes - that's a B) unreached people in the world and over 26,000 children die every day from preventable causes.  We can help. We have the time, the resources to help. But we need to change our hearts. 

There is a lot of repetition in the book and just plain practical advice.  Things we Christians in America need to wake up to.  He closes the book with a challenge to live radically for one year. He stresses not to make it longer than that, because it will be too hard and at times impossible. If we can do it for one year the impact we make can still be amazing. It is an interesting concept. One I am willing to learn more about and study more on my own. His strategies are practical. He begins with prayer and reading the bible.  Then asks people to live sacrificially - do we really need the newest gadget? to eat out so often? the trendiest clothes?  He also asks people to live in a different context (ie different continent) for one week helping people there. And then to help train disciples and 'multiply community.'  All things we are commanded to do in the new testament anyway.

I will recommend this book to others. It can be an eye opener or simply a refresher. In fact, I am passing on my copy to my pastor - not that he needs an eye opener or a refresher, but I think he will like that fact that much of what he teaches us is reiterated in Radical.

"I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review"


Convo with Pastor - Jude 1:7a, 2 Peter 2:6

Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns
gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion.
[God] turned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into
heaps of ashes and swept them off the face of the earth.
He made them an example of what will happen to ungodly people.
Jude 1:7a, 2 Peter 2:6
In Genesis 19, we are told that "24 the Lord rained ... sulfur and fire ... out of heaven." This is definitely NOT one of the happiest chapters in the Bible. Yet it remains an important story.
Throughout scripture -- including today's readings from the apostles -- Sodom and Gomorrah are used as symbols of immorality and judgment. In the writings of the prophets, these cities are a symbol of those who "[do] no[t] turn from wickedness" and "br[ing] evil on themselves" (Jer 23:14 and Isa 3:9). When Jesus talks about those who reject the Gospel (Mt 10, Mt 11, Lk 10), he compares the judgment they will receive to the fiery judgment received by these ancient cities.
I don't know about you, but I'm not a big fan of the word "judgment." I'd rather focus on words like "love," "mercy," and "grace." And God's gentle generosity is, indeed, the overwhelming and dominant themes in scripture. But we must not forget the undeniable theme of consequence.
Now, I don't like the word "consequence" much either. But that too is a repeated theme in scripture. Our actions have consequences. But when Jesus Christ came to save us from our sins, it is clear he also wanted to save us from the consequences of these actions too. Rather than having us continue to wallow in our "wickedness" or "br[ing] evil on [our]selves," the whole Gospel is his God's desire to set us free -- free from sin, free from consequence, and free from judgment.
Love, mercy, grace, and peace are the natural and sulfurless fruits of turning away from sin.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who's calling a moving truck
(I don't want to live anywhere near
Sodom and Gomorrah anymore)

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Genesis 17:5

"No longer shall your name be Abram,
but your name shall be Abraham"
Gen 17:5
Every time I read this verse I laugh.
Abram is 99. He has no children. Yet after God shows up, this old man starts tottering around town and demanding that people call him "father of many nations." (That's what the new name "Abraham" means.)
They probably thought he was senile. "Yeah, right. Let's humor the old guy and call him 'Grandpa for our Nation.'"
The name of God is Yahweh. In ancient times, it was so holy, that the Jews would neither say it or write it out. At most, they would abbreviate our Lord's name: YHWH. Look at those letters. It is not an exaggeration to say that when God changed Abram's name to AbraHam and Sarai's name to SaraH, he gave them both one of his H's. Or more accurately, he gave them part of himself.
Part of the covenant in Genesis 17 meant that God would giving Abraham and his family part of his name, part of his identity. From now on, God's future and Abraham's future (including the future of his offspring) would be inseperably intertwined.
In and through Christ and the New Testament, there is a new covenant. Part of what God promises through Jesus is that your future and his will be inseparably intertwined.
And guess what ... you don't have to wait til you're 99 to claim this identity!
In Christ's Love,
a guy who's thinking of
changing his name from Ed to Led
(I'll take a L from Lord)

Abraham had something tangible from God. He could talk to him, KNOW he was there and cared. God actually changed his named - that is a big deal! AND his wife's! Why does he show himself so clearly these days? 

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Genesis 12:2

By faith Abraham obeyed
when he was called to set out for a place
that he was to receive as an inheritance;
and he set out, not knowing where he was going.
Hebrews 11:8
 [I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; 
I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. Genesis 12:2]

The call of Abraham is described powerfully in two places -- in Genesis 12 and Hebrews 11.

Combining the two, here's a few things we might like to know about a God-honoring life ...
  • It is trust-centered -- Abraham trusted in the spiritual rather than the physical. "Not knowing where he was going," means that rather than needing a physical map, he trusted in God to be his compass and map.
  • It is faith-driven -- Hebrews 11 tells us a half dozen things that Abraham did simply and totally by faith, including "9 living in tents [but] 10 look[ing] forward to the city ... whose architect and builder is God."
  • It is future-focused -- Most of us demand a little immediate gratification. Abraham patiently waited (and patiently traveled) simply because of the promise of some future inheritance.
  • It is Father-centric -- Abraham left his earthly father's house to follow his Heavenly Father.
  • It is blessing-based -- God told Abraham that his faithfulness would lead to blessings. But my favorite part of this is that the blessings were not just to be for Abraham. He was blessed to be a blessing for others. What if we all accepted that as our call -- to turn every blessing around and shine our blessings forth as even richer blessings for others.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who got his wife a TomTom for Christmas
(now, like Abraham, we don't rely on physical maps,
rather we have the voice of a 90-year-old
Hungarian Grandmother telling us where to go.)
I have nothing.

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Monday, January 17, 2011

convo with Pastor - Job 40:1-4

the Lord said to Job:
Shall the faultfinder
contend with the Almighty? ...
Then Job answered the Lord,
"I lay my hand on my mouth."
Job 40:1-4
Have you ever blurted out anything so rude, outrageous, or hurtful that you tried to grab it with your hand and stuff it back in your mouth?!
We're left there with red cheeks and our palm over our lips.
It's so much easier to find fault and criticize than it is to look for truth or achieve viable alternatives. Most critics would do better to keep their hands over their lips. Or maybe they'd do better lending a hand and being part of a good solution.
After thirty-nine chapters of human "wisdom" -- read, "human foolishness" -- God speaks out of the whirlwind and Job puts his palm over his flapping gums.
And when his mouth quits moving, his ears start listening and his heart starts believing again.
Elijah once encountered God in the sheer silence and a still small voice. I wonder if his hand was over his mouth allowing him to do so!
In Christ's Love,
a guy who too often
looks like a cartoon character --
big mouth, little ears 
There are times when my hand is over my mouth to keep me from saying something and then I am told to "Bring it into the light." Words have power - spoken and unspoken.

All too often we humans tend to talk to much and not listen enough. Maybe we should walk around with our hands over our mouths more often ... that would prevent us from inserting our foot into our mouths!

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

convo with Pastor - Job 38:4

Where were you when
I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Job 38:4
When I was a child, I lay in bed at night, contemplating the impossible ...
The universe HAD to have an end.
But once it ended, then what was there.
My brain hurt.
We'd all like a little more understanding from time to time. And Job's question -- why do bad things happen to good people? -- echoes many of our own questions.
God doesn't answer Job with details -- because even if he did, we'd still only understand part of it! Rather, God says, "I'm God, and you're not. When you create the stars and lay the foundation of the world, then people can come to you for answers."
Now ... is that a satisfactory answer for you? For me it is!!! Why? Because I trust God. If I could bring God down to my size, it'd be a pretty little universe with precious little hope.
Our God, instead, is big. Big!
And his character is great. Trustworthy!
And his love is vast. Enough to send his very own Son to die for us.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who's transformed
by trusting in an eternal Him
rather than in a temporary me
Trust. Again? No.

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Wit and Wisdom of G. K. Chesterton

I received of copy of The Quotable Chesterton by Kevin Belmonte from to review without any compensation.

I honestly like Chesterton, along with CS Lewis, George MacDonald, and others.  This book is a lovely collection of 'snacks' by Chesterton arranged by category in alphabetical order.  topics include everything from adventure to cheese to jingoism to zola and almost everything in between.  This is not a book designed to be read in a single sitting like a novel, but instead to be taken in small doses or used as a reference when looking for a quote on a particular topic.  The author has done an excellent job of scouring Chesterton's works to find these little morsels for others to use in a very easy to use format.  This book is a welcome addition to my library.


Convo with Pastor - Job 35:8

Your wickedness affects others like you,
and your righteousness, other human beings.
Job 35:8
When people sin, a common excuse is, "I'm not hurting anybody but me."
As the Apostle Paul says, "None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself ..." (Rom 14:7).
How many of us have seen the behavior of one person pull down the character of others? The same can happen with the generosity of spirit. Faith, hope, love, righteousness, and heroism can absolutely inspire others.
In both cases we can be like the tide, lifting up or pulling down others as our behavior rises or falls.
In Christ's Love,
a beach bum
who's praying for
high tide
That is precisely why I have been pulling away from others ... I know that I drag others down. The place I have been the past year is not one anyone else wants to be in and I know others have backed off from me because of it.   This knowledge makes it harder to face each day. But - there isn't much I can do about it right now.

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Job 32:1-2

Job's three friends refused to reply further to him
because he kept insisting on his innocence ...
he justified himself rather than God
Job 32:1-2
I'm taken by that last line: "Job justified himself rather than God."
The New Living Translation helps us understand more fully what this means, by translating it and telling us that Elihu became angry at Job because "2 Job refused to admit that he had sinned and that God was right in punishing him." 
Elihu is a refreshing alternative to Job's previous three friends. But still no human completely understand's what's going on here. The book begins with Job being "1:1 blameless ... upright ... God fear[ing] ... and [actively] turn[ing] away from evil." Job was right and Elihu was wrong. Job really hadn't done wrong. 
Secondly, Elihu was wrong about this being a punishment. While we all deserve punishment -- because we all sin and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23) -- God is not shown as angrily punishing or smiting Job. What we see, however, is God taking his hand of protection off of Job and allowing certain calamities. 
We know that calamities happen. And because bad  things happen to good people, we infer that hand of God's protection is at least occasionally off of us. I'm convinced that when we stand in heaven, we'll all be amazed at all the times his hand did keep us safe! Nevertheless, we can't help but ask why?
God will answer Job in the final chapters of this book. He'll simply say, "Human, you can't understand my ways." And our lives will be transformed if we learn to say, "I don't understand, but I trust anyway."
And in the meantime, I don't want to fall into the pit of "[me] justifying [my]self rather than God." I know what that line means, "Job justified himself -- declared himself just -- rather than viewing God as just," but I want to turn it ninety degrees and declare it like this: "Rather than Ed justifying himself, he tries to rely on God who has promised to justify him by his grace" (Rom 3:24).
In Christ's Love,
a former graphic artist
who knows that in typography,
left justified means ragged on the right
and right justified means ragged on the left.
I want to be full justified --
ragged in neither direction
and not self-justified either!
I can safely say, "I don't understand!" BUT I can't add the trust part.

I don't really understand what it means to be justified. And don't feel like researching it right now.

However, 1) I do deserve what ever punishment I am getting and 2) it does feel like God has removed his hand of protection. Yes - there may be many times when his hand of protection has kept me safe, but it is much harder to see. And I can identify at least 3 times when I wish it hadn't and God had just let me go to heaven! But for some reason that is not the way it worked out.

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Job 30:1

But now they make sport of me ...
Job 30:1
I wonder if Job invented the concept of "Pride Goeth Before a Fall."
Job tells us that once he was very proud -- and secretly enjoyed it. "29:7 Those were the days when I went to the city gate and took my place among the honored leaders. 8 The young stepped aside when they saw me, ... the aged rose in respect at my coming ... 10 [and] the highest officials h[e]ld their tongues in respect. 11 All who heard of me praised me. ... 12 For I helped the poor in their need ...13 and I caused the widows' hearts to sing for joy. 15 I served as eyes for the blind and feet for the lame. 16 I was a father to the poor and I made sure that even strangers received a fair trial. ... 21"Everyone listened to me and valued my advice... 23 They longed for me to speak as they longed for rain. 22 And my words fell on them like dew."
Proud? Yes. Notice how many times he said, "I ... I ... me ... and my."
But now, he is humbled.
Job said, "29:18 I thought, 'Surely I will die surrounded by my family after a long, good life ... 30:1 But now they make sport of me." And so, I wondered if Job invented the concept of "Pride Goeth Before a Fall."
Shakespeare would have been my second guess. He seemed to have invented half the cliches in the English language.
But the truth of the matter is that it was God who invented the phrase. Wait, let me be careful how I say that! God didn't invent it from personal experience. He whispered it to Solomon after watching hundreds of generations rise and fall before him. We still do. We swell with pride, and then we ALL fall. Death is inevitable. And if it is not a heart attack or accident that destroys us in an instant, even great kings and industry titans will languish in nursing home beds with barely a drawer full of possessions nearby.
Like Job, have you ever been made sport of? It's probably because you were thinking, "I ... I ... me ... and my." There's better balance and perspective that even kings, titans, and celebrities should learn. We should say, instead, "He ... He ... God ... and Awe!"
In Christ's Love,
a guy who doesn't want to rise
too proudly nor too high
Because the inevitable falls
hurt more from greater heights
(and since I can't rise as high as God anyway,
I might as well just settle on worshiping him from my knees)
(I, me, my = 14 times in the passage.)  Recently, while talking to a friend,  I caught myself saying, "I can't ..." repeatedly.  Pride? I don't know. But despite all the things Job did to help others, it wasn't enough. What is enough?

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ukrainian Easter Eggs

Today I was invited to a friend's house to learn how to make Ukrainian Easter Eggs.  I was excited about this for a few reasons: 1. it would get me out of the house ... especially on the 3rd snow day in a row and 2. it would be a chance to spend time with someone I have been wanting to spend time with and get to know. and 3. it was a chance to learn a new craft ... I really enjoy being creative.

As we were making the eggs, I said a few times ... 'there's a story here.'  And there is.  A few times tears sprang to my eyes as I thought of the story that was there.

The Egg - to make these eggs, you have to start with an empty shell.  I didn't help with this part, but the thought of blowing out an egg ... forcing all the life out of the shell to make it empty so it could become something beautiful.  Sometimes it feels like God has to force the life that we know out of us to make us into something beautiful.  I was cautioned though, that oftentimes the shell will crack when trying to blow it clean. I that feeling ... We sometimes feel as if we have cracked and are useless.

The Decorating - decorating was a process of applying wax, dipping in dye, repeat several times then clean. This was the part where I saw a story ... we are the shells. God is the artist. He is applying the wax to create a design. It isn't easy to see. Sometimes the wax burns. But it is there ... being carefully applied in a unique design. We get dipped in a dye and covered in that color then carefully dried off. You can't see the design. You don't really see what is being created. Another set of designs is being created on top of the old. This one even harder to see. And dipped in another color of dye. All of the first color is hidden. This is repeated.  You can't see the design that has been created and all the colors are covered by the next color that is darker than the last.  The egg looks like a mess. Some wax marks. Random colors. No rhyme or reason. Not even very pretty. Like life often times ... no very pretty. no reason. a mess.

Then you take the egg with it's colors and wax and hold it over a flame for a few seconds and wipe off the wax.  As you continue holding it over the flame and cleaning off the wax, the colors appear. The yellows, oranges, blues become bright and vibrant. The white is fresh and clean. But you can't see this without the flame ... the heat ... the fire. And the friction.

We need the fire to cleanse us. To help see the beauty that lies beneath. To see the wonderful design created by God in the midst of the mess.

I was told that sometimes the eggs break. If it happens early on, you are sad and maybe a bit miffed. If it happens later when the design is set and you are excited about seeing the finished product, you are heartbroken. All that work for nothing. I wonder if that is how God sees us if we break his design.

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Convo with Pastor - Job 28:12

where shall wisdom be found?
Job 28:12
One of my favorite books is Andy Stanley's, "The Best Question Ever." He says the one question that could have saved him from most of the heartaches he's faced in life would have been to ask: "What is the wise thing to do?"
Job -- though in an awful and confusing pit of grief and calamity -- was, nevertheless, a man of wisdom. Listen as he advises us about this important subject ...
12 Where is wisdom to be found?
13 Mortals do not know the way to if
[for] it is not found in the land of the living.
3 Miners [seem to] put an end to darkness
[by] searching out the farthest bound,
14 [but] the deep say, "It is not in me."
15 It cannot be gotten for gold.
18 The price of wisdom is greater than pearls.
20 Where then does wisdom come from?
It is hidden from the eyes of all [the] living,
[but] 23 God understands the ways to it.
When I read "The Best Question Ever," Andy Stanley laid out chapter after chapter of wise advice. He talked about wisdom in circumstances like finances and purity and accepting a coach's advice. Yet as I read it, I kept getting angrier and angrier. Yes, this was wise advice, but he was missing the best advice of all!
He didn't let me down! The last chapter -- once he'd hooked his non-religious readers into buying into the principal of seeking wisdom -- is the truest line from scripture: "The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord" (Prov 1:7, 9:10, Ps 111:10).
In Christ's Love,
a guy who knows that
the "fear of the Lord" is not being scared
but rather showing a "profound respect."
My God knows the way to wisdom ... not me.
If wisdom is fear of the Lord, then exactly how do you know what is wise and what isn't?   I admit to being afraid of God ... much different from respectful fear. I blogged about that on 2/8/10 title 'More than Fear.'  (you can click to read it)  And reading it tells me that I have not come so far since then. Still scared ...

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Job 24:13-17

There are those who rebel against the light ...
When daylight is gone, the murderer rises up ...
The eye of the adulterer watches for dusk ...
In the dark, thieves break into houses ... 
For all of them, midnight is their morning; 
they make friends with the terrors of darkness.
Job 24:13-17
I love that line: "Midnight is their morning."
I also hate the truth of that lie.
Murderers, adulterers, and theives are constantly emboldened by the cover of darkness. Mostly, they hide their ways so they won't get caught. And "they make friends," along the way, "with the terrors of darkness."
But isn't there another element to this cover of darkness? Don't some of our most wreckless habits start at night because of shame? It's fine if our co-conspirators know -- fellow theives, fellow drunkards, fellow adulterers -- but who are the people we're hiding our activities from? Mom? Grandma? Our boss? Our spouse? God?
Shame is usually in terms of relationships. Therefore, when Job says, "There are those who rebel against the light," he's not talking about a fear of sunrays; he's talking about a rebellion against God and his ways.
Scripture tells us that "God is light; in him there is no darkness at all" (1 Jn 1:5). Therefore, true light and true darkness have nothing to do with the time of day. True light is a relationship with the One who is light.
Think about it: When we're ashamed, we stay away from the light ... including the person who is light. And we make friends, instead, with darkness. And, I guess, accidentally, we run the risk of making friends with that person too.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who's tired of working 
the 2nd and 3rd shift.
I want a day job.
I want to work in the light.
The light can be scary. It shows all of our flaws, mistakes, weaknesses. I want to hide. The best place to hide is in the dark. We can't be found there.  I hurt so much inside and the mere thought of having any of the pain revealed is too much to handle.

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Job 19:25-26

I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God ...
Job 19:25-26
Congregations have favorite songs. For various reasons, particular tunes and lyrics become congregational anthems. Therefore, in my first ten years of ministry and across my first fifty burials, the most familiar funeral anthem of one congregation proclaimed a mixture of Old Testament Job and New Testament hope:   
I know that my Redeemer lives.
What comfort this sweet sentence gives.
Standing on the Easter side of the cross and the empty tomb, Christians join with every eye-witness to the resurrection in proclaiming with that our redeemer truly lives.  
But Job's confidence is even more astounding. The only empty tomb Job experienced was the yawning grave that swallowed his whole family. Job didn't know Jesus' resurrection, he only knew earthly death ... and pain ... and grief. On top of that, his body was swallowed in boils and sores and pain and misery.
"I know that my redeemer lives" was faith. Pure faith. Powerful faith!
And how about us? Even after powerful testimonies of the resurrection, we still have nagging corners of uncertainty like Doubting Thomas. Therefore, in the midst of one of the longer and more unsettling books of scripture -- like Job -- pause long enough to remember that Job didn't have eye-witness testimonies or a resurrected promise. All he had was pain, turmoil, and a faith that flickered but couldn't be extinguished.
He could see no hope ... and yet he still hoped. 
In Christ's Love,
a guy who wants to
change his name to Hope
I am not familiar with the song Pastor talked about, but when I read the verse, a different song popped into my head.
Nicole C. Mullin

Who taught the sun where to stand in the morning
Who told the ocean you an only come this far?
Who showed the moon where to hide 'til evening
Whose words alone can catch a falling star?

Well I know my Redeemer lives
I know my Redeemer lives
All of creation testify
This life within me cries
I know my Redeemer lives

The very same God that spins things in orbit
He runs to the weary, the worn and the weak
And the same gentle hands that hold me when I'm broken
They conquered death to bring me victory

Now I know my Redeemer lives
I know my Redemer lives
Let all creation testify
Let this life wihtin me cry
I know my Redeemer, He lives

To take away my shame
And He lives forever I'll proclaim
That the payment for my sin
Was the precious life He gave
But now He's alive
And there's an empty grave.

And I know my Redeemer, He lives
I know my Redeemer lives
Let all creation testify
This life within me cries
I know my Redeemer lives

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