Monthly Archives: February 2013

Luke 4 — Speaking the Truth

Jesus returned to Galilee. The power of the Spirit was with him, and the news about him spread throughout the surrounding country. He taught in the synagogues, and everyone praised him. (Luke 4:14-15)

This scripture happens right after Jesus is tempted by the devil in the desert.  He must have been really excited and feeling empowered.  There is a mountaintop feeling when you accomplish something really hard.  He made it through 40 days of not eating, and didn’t give into temptation!  Even yesterday, I rode the bike somewhere because the car was in the shop.  It was a challenge, but I felt so great when I had ridden the bike up hills 30 minutes each way and arrived back home.

So Jesus is feeling exhilarated about what he is going to do.  AND he has the power of the Spirit with him.  We all know the Spirit descended upon him like a dove when he was baptized, but I think the power of the Spirit was in him in extra measure because he had fasted and prayed so much.  Spending extra time with God makes me feel so much more clearheaded, so much stronger, inspired, decisive.

One of the first things Jesus does is travel from synagogue to synagogue in his home region.  This is where rabbis would legitimately begin their ministries.  He establishes himself as a new teacher.  He starts a buzz.  I can imagine what that must have been like.  Here you have these sort of country hick synogogues in Galilee.  A new teacher comes in, someone local.  They’re all like, “Who’s the new guy?  How does he compare with the other teachers?”

And when they heard him, everyone praised him.  That must have been unusual, because I doubt people have changed over the years.  The old joke is that people have preacher for Sunday lunch — they criticize the message.  But the people who heard Jesus weren’t criticizing, they were liking it, they were all talking favorably about what he said.  “Have you heard the new rabbi?” They might have been asking one another.  “I really like him.  What he says makes sense.  It’s true.”

Notice that Jesus didn’t go to Jerusalem first.  He didn’t go to the learned religious scholars who would question his origin or pick apart what he was saying.  He went to the common people, and they were excited about the things he had to say.  He started his ministry with words that fell upon receptive ears.

So for Jesus, this must have been gratifying, to at least start out, after the big trial in the desert, to feel like the Spirit was with him powerfully, and to feel like he was being well received.  The good news he preached spread, and the good news that a new preacher was in town spread.  This wasn’t just another teacher, it was someone people were talking about, someone they were positive about.  As I said, there was a buzz of excitement in the region.

Then Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. As usual he went into the synagogue on the day of worship. He stood up to read the lesson….They said, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” ….Then Jesus added, “I can guarantee this truth: A prophet isn’t accepted in his hometown….So they got up, forced Jesus out of the city, and led him to the cliff. They intended to throw him off of it.

Jesus must have known what kind of reception he would get in his hometown.  But just like in Ezekiel, where God says everyone must hear the message, Jesus wants these people to hear the message as well.  I am sure he looked around the room and saw dear faces, people he had loved since the time he was little.  People who had given him a piece of bread when he was a child.  People who had laughed and played with him.  People who had bought carpentry items he had made.  People who were married to his sisters or brothers.

And he looks out on these beloved faces, and he sees they are amazed at his words, but they can’t believe that these words would come out of an ordinary carpenter they saw every day for years and didn’t seem to be a prophet.  When Max did really well in nursing school, I was amazed.  Isn’t this the same kid who was just an average student all growing up?  I believed in his potential, but there was a feeling of unreality because I had mostly seen him as an ordinary student.

Jesus sees the faces of those he loves, and he sees they can’t get past the picture they have in their head of him. So he said to them, “You’ll probably quote this proverb to me, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ and then say to me, ‘Do all the things in your hometown that we’ve heard you’ve done in Capernaum.’  Where Jesus was used to seeing the faces of people who got it, who were excited about his message and knew he was something special, he sees skepticism.  He sees that he would have to prove himself.

It’s like when the Israelites came to the Promise Land and sent out 12 spies who brought back a bad report.  Ten of the spies, and all the people couldn’t see past this bad report to believe God would give them the land.  Is God supposed to prove himself again, when he has already done so many miracles, helping them cross the Red Sea, giving them manna every day?

Jesus isn’t going to prove himself.  He is looking for receptive hearts.  He quotes two stories, There were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time. It had not rained for three-and-a-half years, and the famine was severe everywhere in the country. But God didn’t send Elijah to anyone except a widow at Zarephath in the territory of Sidon. There were also many people with skin diseases in Israel in the prophet Elisha’s time. But God cured no one except Naaman from Syria.”

I was reading yesterday how God described the Israelites as hard headed and hard of heart.  This must be what Jesus saw when he looked at them.  Who would respond to his message?  Whose face would light up?  Who would have the heart to see the wonderful truths he was telling?

And it is amazing how he says these provocative words to the people he has been close to.  I would want to be easy on them.  It’s like the time that comes later when Jesus says his mother and brothers are the ones who do God’s will.  Jesus is so focused on finding the open hearts.  The eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.  (II Chron 16:  Jesus is looking for the sheep who will listen to his voice.  The ones who will be able to go and make disciples.

Jesus deliberately stirs the people up.  Does he hope that this will wake them up, or is he just pronouncing their judgment?  It does remind me of the passage in Ezekiel where God says He will make Ezekiel as hard as flint.  Because Jesus has the Spirit in power, he can say these things.

What is the lesson for me in all of this?  I must preach to everyone.  I must expect that there will be hard hearts.  But I must still tell the truth.  Would anyone have changed if Jesus didn’t speak the hard truths, no matter how many miracles he did?  Would I have changed?

And I am very thankful that people taught the hard truth to me.  My life got better.  Christianity worked.  Ken taught last night how everyone who left everything gained 100 fold.  (Mark 10)

If I hold back in telling the truth, am I making disciples?  Will people become those who teach others the truth and make disciples?

Jesus didn’t just teach, spreading good philosophy.  He made disciples.

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Hard Heads and Hard Hearts

Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against me to this very day… Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or terrified by them….You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen.  (Selections from Ezekiel 2)

God actually describes the Israelites as rebellious three times in one verse.  Another place one of these words is used is in Numbers 14 when Joshua warns the Israelites not to rebel against God by thinking the Canaanites are too big and strong for them to take the Promise Land.  It isn’t a direct rebellion, it is giving into fear instead of having faith.

People are by nature rebellious.  We are self focused and insist on doing what we want to do.  I see a thousand examples around me of people who can’t see beyond themselves to really consider the other person’s viewpoint.  How much more difficult is it then to consider things from God’s viewpoint, to admit that there is a Creator and higher power in the world.  The subtitle to my blog web site is “Living in the Matrix of God.”  I’ve posted these words before, but I want to post again the lyrics to a song I wrote that describes how we must be humble before God.

This day is not my day

These possessions are not mine

Time and physical existence

Are the Lord’s domain, a matrix of God

In Him we live and move and have our being.

So what conceit to live apart from Him

When we don’t look to God at all times and realize our dependency on Him, how our existence is twined in Him, how He is the source of hope and peace and everything good that we need, we are rebellious.

I woke up this morning feeling out of sorts.  But if I give into this and throttle back and try to coast through, I am being just like the Israelites who thought the Canaanites were too big to vanquish.  Not rebelling against God means always believing He will see us through.

And thus God addresses Ezekiels fears, and tells him not to be afraid of the Israelites, that He, the Lord, will see him through.  The most convicting words in this section are that Ezekiel MUST speak, whether they listen or not.  I am always looking to share with those who I think might be open to listening.  But God wants his word to be heard by everyone.  He wants everyone to have a chance.

But the house of Israel is not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart.  (Ezek 3:7)

The description of the Israelites in Ezekiel 3 is that they have hard foreheads and hard hearts.  They are massively stubborn, completely headstrong,  closed in their heart to being able to consider anything outside of their paltry purview.   They are so sure they are right, so set on the course they are taking.

I think one reason people are so stubborn is because they are insecure.  If they admit the way they’re taking is flawed, their whole construct crumbles.  It’s painful, it’s insulting, but more than that, it’s terrifying to think that you are a failure.  Thus, people decide on the way they want to go,  and that is the hill they will die on.

So when I go out and talk to people about God, at some point they are going to have to realize that adjustments in their life need to be made.  All of us have to be humble and constantly look to God and constantly make adjustments.  People are not going to like that.  They are not going to like the message that something about their life might not be as it should be.  They will take this personally.  How naive I am that I think I can go out and share, and people will all welcome this wonderful message I have!  For many, the message is a threat!

Yet share, I must.  The message is their only hope that they can take their eyes off of themselves and put it on the one who can guide them to the life they were intended to have.  It is their only choice for true blessedness.  And it is a constant reminder to me that I must put my hand in the hand of the One who knows the way, and let Him lead me through the dark valleys.

But I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint….Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard behind me a loud rumbling sound—May the glory of the Lord be praised in his dwelling place!— the sound of the wings of the living creatures brushing against each other and the sound of the wheels beside them, a loud rumbling sound. (From Ez 3)

God is with me, making me strong.  And when I read this description of the living creatures, it reminds me of His unfathomable power, the power that is behind me.

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The End of the Story

“They will fall down slain in Babylon, fatally wounded in her streets. For Israel and Judah have not been forsaken by their God, the Lord Almighty….Every man is senseless and without knowledge; every goldsmith is shamed by his idols…..But the God of Israel is no idol! He is the Creator of everything that exists, including Israel, the tribe of his inheritance- The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is his name!”  (Selections from Jeremiah 51)

“The Lord’s portion is his people,  Deut. 32:9

Each person has a story.  Each nation has a story.  Each age has a story.  And each story has many episodes, many beginnings, climaxes and endings.  The Babylonians had a story.  They became great, and then Jeremiah prophesied of the time that they would become nothing.

It is good to remember that each episode has an ending.  It is scary to watch evil gain ascendency in other nations, and in our own.  We want to feel like evil is having victories, it is becoming stronger, it will win.

But God wins!  He always does.

And evil will not win against us, although at times it has victories.  I was reminding a sister last night who is struggling that when you resist the devil, he will flee from you.  It doesn’t happen all at once, but if you persevere, HE WILL FLEE.  The episode of that temptation will be over, and as I joked with her, a new one will probably take its place.

The reason evil doesn’t win against us is that we are God’s portion, his inheritance.  Nations rose and fell, yet God watched after his people and rescued them and preserved them, time and time again.  And now it is a time when we are a part of an everlasting kingdom that surpasses all others.  “The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever.”  (Dan 2:44)

So although I am going through an episode of struggle, and I see struggles all around me, these are only for awhile.

And what is my story?  A page will be written today.  I can write it for myself.  I can let God write it.

Last night I watched the Oscars for awhile.  They had a tribute to film professionals who passed away in the last year.  One said, “More than anything else, it’s the story.  It’s always the story.”  I’ve tried to write  stories, and it is hard to write a good story.  I’ve always looked at the things happening around me, and felt that God by far writes the best stories.

One of the things I was doing last night as I watched was researching the situation with Iran for my foreign policy class.  I read a bipartisan think tank paper that talked about the delicate balance in the Mideast, and how it will adversely affect the whole world economy if the balance becomes destabilized by Iran achieving nuclear power.   There were graphs and prediction models.  I was amazed, because I saw how much the US feels that we have to play God to the world and manipulate other nations so that the economy will function at maximum efficiency.  I understand that billions of people are affected, and we don’t want to just stand by, but in spite of all the expert opinions, do we really know what is best?  It’s still a guessing game.  And do we really have the right to do this?  I think there are some ways we should act, after carefully considering expert advice, but we must be very judicious and humble.

And it’s the same in my life.  I want to write the story.  I see the probability of outcomes, and I want to manipulate things for the maximum benefit.  But it’s still a guessing game.  God knows how to write the story so He wins, and I win. I need to trust His story.

Alex Jackson preached yesterday about becoming like a child.  One way we become like a child is to have teachers and learn from others.  We need to surround ourselves with learning, cultivate relationships with people who can teach us all kinds of ways to overcome sin and become excellent in life.  I do need a lot of great input from others if I am to write a good story with my life.

But I still don’t want to become fearful and succumb to the temptation to manipulate.  Right now I see serious things happening that could make or break people’s lives.  Things may need to be said and done.  But I want to be very careful.  At one point this past weekend I said something to someone because I felt momentum shifting in a negative direction.  But because I was in an irritable state of heart, what I said could have caused more of a shift in the negative direction.  I see so much lately how words have led to negative consequences, in spite of good intentions.  It is so hard to say the right thing.

But back to the original point:  GOD WINS!  He helps us to win because we are His people.   I need to trust the process, trust the Author.  I need to make it my overweening ambition to know Him better, so I can act in accordance with His will.  I need to feel His pen writing on my heart the agenda of the day.   And may that writing become my poetry, inspiring the stories I enact.

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Our True Pasture

“For they sinned against the LORD, their true pasture (or according to other translations, their true place of rest, the habitation of righteousness, the beauty of justice).”  (Jer 50:7)

I was designed to find peace in God, not in anything else but God.  My soul finds rest in God alone.  (Ps 62:1)  He is the place where I was created to dwell.  He is the pasture, the nourishment, my only real sustenance.

But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.  (I Cor 6:17)

And now it is a time when God does actually dwell in me, and I in Him. How absolutely wonderful this is!  During church, we sang “Someday,” and then hummed while Chidiya read, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” (Rev 21:3)  Although this refers to heaven, it also describes our state now, and my heart is so moved at the awesomeness of it all.

In those coming days,” says the Lord,

“the people of Israel will return home together with the people of Judah.

They will come weeping and seeking the Lord their God.

They will ask the way to Jerusalemand will start back home again.

They will bind themselves to the Lord with an eternal covenant that will never be forgotten.

“My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray and turned them loose in the mountains.

  All who found them devoured them.

I am looking for those who are looking for the Lord, who are asking the way to Jerusalem, who want to bind themselves to Him eternally.  So many have been led astray to pastures that didn’t succor them.  They have been taken advantage of, and mastered by the world.  But God has been moving, working in their lives, and they are out there, bleating to find the true pasture.

And at the heart of the true pasture, the place of rest in God’s presence,  is the throne of mercy.  What a blessing this is!  How I long for it.  Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Heb 4)

I have been thinking about mercy a lot lately.  I have been doing research on solutions to foreign policy problems, and I watched a video on Ted of a Libyan female leader who said mercy is a key to improving the political climate.  It encourages collaboration instead of competition, inclusion rather than exclusion.  “The divine matrix of compassion nourishes the entire existence, she said. To her the divine inspiration for this is Allah. She explained her definition of mercy from the Koran.  To hear her talk about this was a great illustration for me of the universal power of mercy, and how much it is needed.

There always needs to be a balance of righteousness and mercy.  When I am grumpy and irritable, I forget mercy and become self righteous.  I was this way yesterday morning, and I had to picture myself entering God’s throne room, feel myself basking in his mercy until I could get the perspective to go out and speak words that seemed right.

In those days, at that time,” declares the LORD, “search will be made for Israel’s guilt, but there will be none, and for the sins of Judah, but none will be found, for I will forgive the remnant I preserve. (Jer 50:20)

We have forgiveness!  The rain of God’s mercy is constantly falling on us.  May this drench me to the heart and permeate my being, so I may reflect it as I go out.

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Because he has Exalted Himself…

Let him stagger and fall like a drunkard, because he has exalted himself, magnified himself, against the LORD.  (Jer 48:26)

Moab will be destroyed as a people because he has exalted himself against the LORD

Life is about so much more than just me.  But I am egocentric and make it about me.  I condense the universe to my sphere, and make whatever happens in my life supremely important.  Life is about more than my daily accomplishments, or even what I help others accomplish.  God is using what is going on in my spectrum as one small part of a vast machinery, a working that is grand and wonderful.   And when I am upset about things going wrong in my sphere, can I not see that  it doesn’t matter so much if my feelings are hurt?  I feel like all of life can be reduced down to my one mistake, that one thing that is going awry, and that repercussions from that will change the direction of reality.

It’s more than me.  It’s more than our church.  It is about billions of people who are hungry, billions who are crying out in hopelessness.  God is balancing political kingdoms.  There are adjustments in this universe that need to be made.  All is not chaos.

And just as I need to trust God with the administration of the world, I need to sit back, let go, and let Him administrate the events around me.

At Bible talk last night we discussed the story of Naaman and how Naaman had a preconceived notion of how God should work.  I didn’t think I was struggling with that until today.  I am not trusting how the universe is operating.  Something happens and I feel like I need to be the boy who sticks his finger in the dike.  I am uneasy that this is not part of God’s plan.

In the end, I must remember the importance of humility, the face-bowed-to-the-dirt-I-don’t-know-anything-I-just-need-to-be-still kind of humility.  “Who is this who darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?”  (Job 38:2) I cannot magnify myself above God.

In the end I am like a cat creeping warily towards the water bowl.  I am not sure what dangers or pitfalls are lurking, but I want to lap a few drops of the cool pure refreshment and comfort that God always provides.

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The Solution

Charge, you horses and chariots;

attack, you mighty warriors of Egypt!

Come, all you allies from Ethiopia, Libya, and Lydiac

who are skilled with the shield and bow!

For this is the day of the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,

a day of vengeance on his enemies.  (Jer 46:9-10)

I am taking a foreign affairs class, and we are studying about how some of these very countries figure large on the world stage.  Egypt recently went through a revolution, and although it has democratically elected a leader, there is still much turmoil.  Libya had a regime change a couple of years ago that many nations in the world played a part of, because of the tyranny of Gaddafi.

It is hard not to be uneasy when considering these countries, and others of the Middle East region.  There is so much infighting going on over there.  The people in power are corrupt, and they are attacked by violent groups who think they need better representation.  It is hard to have hope for the region, or for mankind.  I worry over where the world is headed, over what will happen if radical Islam produces an increasing number of terrorist acts and attracts more followers across the globe.

In my class, we spend a long time discussing the world’s situation and all the problems, but we don’t have any solutions.  I don’t like to be hopeless.  I don’t like talking about everything that is wrong without identifying some plan for something that might work to fix a situation.

But do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant;

do not be dismayed, Israel.

For I will bring you home again from distant lands,

and your children will return from their exile.

Israel  will return to a life of peace and quiet,

and no one will terrorize them.  (Jer 46)

God has the power.  He will ultimately depose those who are evil.  God has the solution.  And although it doesn’t say it directly in the passage above, the solution is changing people from the inside out, one heart at a time.

Soon afterward Jesus began a tour of the nearby towns and villages, preaching and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom of God. He took his twelve disciples with him, along with some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases. Among them were Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons; Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s business manager; Susanna; and many others who were contributing from their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples. (Luke 8:1-3)

This is one of my favorite passages from Luke.  It shows how pivotal women were in Jesus’ ministry.  And what I like about these women in the context of this blog is how grateful they were for their lives being changed.  They were possessed by evil spirits and demons.  They had diseases.  They were those who were wicked and hopeless.  But no matter how hopeless they seemed, Jesus was still able to transform them.  They don’t just take this transformation for granted, they follow Jesus and give their own money to support him in heartfelt gratitude for what he has done.

People can change.  And thus the world can change.  Ken taught a class on the Spirit last night, and one of his main points was how the Spirit empowers you to change in ways you could never accomplish by yourself.  We need to do things to be filled with the Spirit, so the Spirit can empower us.  We need to pray and listen.  We need to sing.  We need to meditate on the Word.  We need to have intimacy with Jesus.

I have felt powerless at times lately about my moodiness.  I have felt powerless regarding others who aren’t making the character changes they need to.  I have felt powerless when faced with the many problems of the world, and the intransigence of the systems to allow change.

But with the Spirit, I don’t need to feel powerless.  Nothing is hopeless. A better, brighter world is coming, one heart at a time.  Each new soul is a city set on a hill, a seed that grows into a tree with branches that nourish life.  Each good choice sets off a ripple effect of positivity.  Let me walk this day and see the little things — the act of caring, the choice of good over bad, the extra effort, the step of faith — that are the real agents of change. The Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, will prevail.

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Though the Fig Tree Does Not Bloom

Today I read Jeremiah 39-43 about the events that happened in Judah after the fall of Jerusalem.  One of the Babylonian officials told Jeremiah to go live with Gedaliah, who had been appointed to be governor of the area for the king of Babylon.  Jeremiah did so.  But Gedaliah’s downfall was that he didn’t listen to advice.  One of the army officers, Johanan, told him that someone with royal blood, Ishmael, was being sent by the king of the Ammonites to kill him.  Gedaliah didn’t believe him, and subsequently was murdered, along with the Jews and Babylonian officials who were with him. Ishmael took all the rest of the people in Mizpah captive.

It was up to Johanan to be the hero and rescue the captives.  He gathered an army and fought Ishmael’s group, aided by the captives.  Perhaps the captives could have rebelled before, but the presence of the army officers gave them courage and a rallying point.  They defeated Ishmael, who escaped with 8 of his men.

Then Johanan and the army officers approached Jeremiah and asked him to inquire of God what they should do.  They made a strong statement, “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 is favorable or unfavorable, 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.”

But the people did not live up to their promise.  Jeremiah warned them to not go down to Egypt.  Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, whom you now fear. Do not be afraid of him, declares the LORD, for I am with you and will save you and deliver you from his hands. I will show you compassion so that he will have compassion on you and restore you to your land.  However, if you say, ‘We will not stay in this land,’ and so disobey the LORD your God…then the sword you fear will overtake you there, and the famine you dread will follow you into Egypt, and there you will die.  Johanan and the other officers were arrogant and told Jeremiah he was lying.  They led the remnant of Judah down to Egypt in spite of what they said about obeying the word from the Lord.

It is so easy to be fearful.  It is so tempting to find our own solutions to our problems.  Johanan was a good leader.  He warned Gedaliah.  He rescued the captive people.  But then he followed common sense wisdom —  that fleeing to Egypt would be safer than staying and trusting in the Lord.  All of their lives were in shambles.  Jerusalem had been sacked.  Their people had been carried away.  The surrounding kingdoms plotted against them.  It certainly seemed expedient to move somewhere else.

Contrast this with Habakkuk’s approach, “I have heard, so there’s trembling within me….a rotten feeling has entered me. … I wait for the day of trouble to come to the people who will attack us. Even if the fig tree does not bloom and the vines have no grapes, even if the olive tree fails to produce and the fields yield no food, even if the sheep pen is empty and the stalls have no cattle- even then, I will be happy with the LORD. I will truly find joy in God, who saves me.”  (Hab 3:16-18)

Habakkuk knew he would face the same situation that Johanan and the remnant faced.  He knew that they would be sacked and carried into captivity.  He knew the future was grim, therefore there was trembling within him.  Yet he wrote a beautiful song honoring God for the way He rescued the Israelites from Egypt.  That remembrance helped him to have faith that God would continue to take care of them.  He could be joyful, even if the deliverance was years and years down the road.

Doing the right thing and trusting God, as opposed to implementing a common sense solution, is one of the toughest things to do.  It is hard when you jeopardize your finances by arranging your work so that you will have time to attend church services.  It is hard when you jeopardize the relationship most dear to you because you know something about is not pleasing to God.  It is hard when you are deeply unhappy in your current situation, and God seems to be silent.  It is hard when your children are having problems and the things you are doing aren’t having an effect.

And so we find our own solutions, and we rationalize the compromises we make.   We tell ourselves that we’re just doing what needs to be done to survive.  We’re just trying to be happy.  We’re just trying to provide for our families.

When I wrote a musical about the book of Ruth, I felt like Naomi’s situation could be due to rationalizations.  She moved away from Jerusalem to find food.  She allowed her sons to marry foreigners.  The following is part of a song I wrote for her to sing:

I didn’t mean to compromise

There seemed no other way

We needed to be practical

The situation was grave

Every cloud seemed to be dry

Every hope seemed to dismay

I was lost before I realized

That I had gone astray.

At this point in writing this blog, I took a break and went for a run.  As I was doing my “slog” (slow jog), I was thinking I would end this article with the concept I’ve been planning to highlight in last scene of the musical I’m writing about the story of Jericho — that it takes a little bit of faith and a lot of holding on.  They had to march around Jericho for 7 days.  They had to be patient and keep their integrity.

But as I spent some time with God on the run, I was inspired to think that it is so much more than that.  I felt that as the Israelites marched around Jericho 7 times on the 7th day, they would use that time to focus on God, and how big He is, instead of the looking at how intimidating the walls were or how strong the Canaanite warriors were.

It’s all about what we focus on in the waiting room of God, when we don’t see God acting.  Johanan saw the lost battles and the threats.  He didn’t envision the awesomeness of God.  Habakkuk saw in his mind the mighty works God did in the past, and believed they would be repeated in the future.

Our battle is to fight the good fight, “holding on to faith and a good conscience.”  We can’t let the problems in front of us blind us to God.  We can’t rationalize.  We can’t compromise.  Instead, we put our hand in the hand of the Beloved Father and joyfully trust in the one who will save us.


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