Devotional

You are currently browsing the archive for the Devotional category.

If you attend a church, certainly a Bible Church or other conservative church, you are likely to hear the idea that “Christians are Sinners saved by grace”.  What is interesting is that this cannot  be found anywhere in the Bible. 

That man rebelled against God and became separated from him is obvious.   It is this rebellion and separation, caused by sin that makes man a sinner and before coming to Christ, we were all sinners.  However, the identity and title used throughout the New Testament for believers is Saint.

This, of course, does not mean what Catholicism has sadly caused the word to come to mean – a person who has worked to grow holy and close to God and become so pure and good that we call them saints.  But it is very clear in the New Testament that we could add that prefix to a modern new convert as well as to St. Paul or St. Augustine. 

We were once sinners, but we were saved by grace and now, we are saints.  Sainthood, like salvation, cannot be achieved by our works – it is the title of the children of God who have become God’s children through union with Christ. Christ is now their very life, their only life and Christ was never a sinner – so neither are they.  Once you are a child of God, through your faith in God’s gracious provision, you are no longer a mere mortal, separated from God – a sinner.

That we were once sinners is true, but it is not the interesting thing – the amazing thing is that we are now Saints in Christ and we can boldly go before the thrown of God.  What’s the value of dwelling on the fact that we were sinners. And certainly, identifying ourselves as sinners can only serve to make our heavenly Father sad.  If we adopted a child from the gutter and loved them as our own but they constantly reminded us that they were not our child and kept dressing in the rags of their previous life, we would be greatly grieved.  How much more grief must God bear because of our misunderstanding of his gift.

Answer these questions for yourself:

1. If I died tonight, am I 100% certain I will go to heaven?

2. If I died and stood before God, and he asked my why he should let me into his heaven, what would my answer be?

If you answered no to question #1, would you like to be certain?

If for question #2, you answered with something like “I’ve tried to lead a good life” – can you not see that you are still working for your salvation.

The gospel – the good news – that God is proclaiming to man is that all man’s works are in vain and unnecessary for he has provided the lamb and the man who believes can be certain that he will be saved.  God, unlike men, keeps his word and is completely capable – can’t you see that you can be sure of God’s power and desire to do this – so trusting in him means you never have to worry about your ability to put it together.

When Egypt was plagued with frogs such that they were in the food and drinking water and beds and homes, Pharaoh summoned Moses agreeing to his demands and Moses asked Pharaoh when he would like God to remove the plague.  Pharaoh’s incredulous response was tomorrow.  Why in the world would he wait another day living with the frogs.   And why would we live another day being indecisive about accepting God’s infinitely better gift in Christ so we could sleep tonight certain that we will go to heaven because we can answer God’s question confidently that our basis for entry is on God’s Word, his son’s life indwelling us.

And what does that take?  Asking him for his life to count as our own. It is not merely believing – the Bible says even the demons believe.  Faith is asking his life to be your own.  If I showed you are sturdy chair and you told me you believe it could support you – but refused to sit in it – how much are you really believing in the chair?  Settle it once for all to fully engage with Christ.

Congratulations.

After you’ve given your life to Christ or if you already done that, then resolve to never again identify yourself as anything less than a child of God because no child of God is a sinner, separated from God.

Tags: , ,

Perhaps the saddest deception that Satan has perpetrated on the human race is that morality is what God wants from man. Our enemy was pleased to convince us that God was angry with us because we weren’t being good boys and girls. In this way, he enslaved us in between guilt and pride. First he pushes us into a prideful pursuit of proving to ourself and heaven that we could be good which of course sends us into condemning self-conceit and judgement of others. Then he is swift to accuse us and drive to guilt.

But the reality is that God is not after morality from us, he is pursuing us fully. He is about providing us nobility. Regardless of our human plight and because of his love for us, he has made Christ to become our very life so that we are his children. This is the secret his enemy hides because by merely receiving God’s gift, we are forever his child and the knowledge of good and evil is replaced by the tree of life.

Tags:

A friend’s comment about my earlier post on accountability reminded me of a statement made by C.S. Lewis in his famous and fabulous speeches titled, The Four Loves. In discussing Agape, God’s love, referred to in this statement also as charity, Lewis says:

There is that in the heart of every man which resists and resents agape from his fellow creatures or even from his creator.  We naturally want to be desired, to be found delightful, to satisfy worthily some hunger in others. To receive a love that is purely a gift, that bears witness solely to the lovingness of the giver, and not at all to our loveliness, is a severe mortification. We desperately need to receive such love, from God and even from our fellow creatures, but we don’t naturally want to. 

That reality, of course, is due to the fall – that pride we inherited that wants to “be like God“.  This is also why many have a hard time receiving the free gift of God in Christ preferring, instead, a plethora of philosophies, ideas and religions that let them work up to God, building their own tower of Babel, with the same tragic results.

However, where accountability is concerned, we are not under any obligation to receive false charity.  Lewis continues:

“I don’t want any of your darned Christian charity” is a very familiar sentence.  Of course, it often springs from an ignorance of what Christian charity is – more often from a well grounded suspicion that Christian charity is not what we’re really being offered – because, of course, much of what is called charity contains so much vanity, self-applause, and veiled contempt that it cannot help but be resented.

Our Lord told us that he was sending us “out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves“.  He also told us not to give “that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” 

Trust your heart and seek counsel from those who love you as Christ does, not from those who care about moral platitudes and serving as modern day Pharisees. Psalm 103:13-14 says “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”  So, don’t give yourself to those who can’t remember that you, and they themselves, are made of dust.  Love those people, but seek counsel from brothers and sisters who love you and God and can encourage you with gentleness and compassion.

Lewis summarized this section:

It is hard to bear agape from our fellows, and yet, each of us needs it.  There is that in each of us that simply can’t be loved with natural love.

The question for us is whether we will recognize “angels unaware” and “today, if we hear his voice, avoid hardening our hearts.” Practice agape accountability with your brothers and sisters and let them practice it with you.  As St. Paul told the Ephesians: “And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you.”

Tags: ,

Well, it’s complete!  Jeremy is in Bryan.  He started work this week-end and commences class tomorrow.  Today, I took the girls and Cammi for our first family outing without him.  And now, as I write this, I am sitting in what was his room now completely transformed into my office and spiritual retreat room.

I was sitting here, trying to get a feel of this new space and thinking about how much work was involved in making this transformation. In reality, it is not complete – it is merely complete enough to begin.  As I thought about all the next steps, it occurred to me that transformation is usually like this.

St Paul tells us in Romans 12:2

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

We’re tempted to read this transformation as an event or experience.  Complete it, get the degree, the gold star, the certificate – then you will know God’s will – but it’s really a process to undertake daily and coming to know God’s will is a moment-to-moment enterprise.  He does not show us the plan – but says only, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:13  He does not make all the lights green for us before we leave the house but he promises he will guide us on the right path as we follow him.

Jeremy is just starting college and adult life, and I am only ready to begin using this space as God has put in my mind.  If he and I don’t stay the course, continue daily in this transformation, then the full value of the transformation is loss.  If the butterfly only stepped out of the cocoon but then continued as a caterpillar, well, that would just not be the same.

So Lord, help Jeremy and I and our family continue in the transformation that you’ve started in our life – renewing our minds daily and so living in the confidence of your good, pleasing and perfect will. Thank you, Farther, for getting us to this starting line – now help us to run the race set before us to your glory.

Galatians 1:1-2, 3-5:

1Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2and all the brothers with me, to the churches in Galatia:

What’s in a Greeting?

In his greeting, Paul has no qualms with saying that he is sent by God. This is a bold statement and I wonder how many Christians have this confidence. 

The difference for Paul is the knowing – the confidence in the reality that God had put him in a specific time, specific place to reach out to a specific people with the love of Christ.  But the same is true for us.  Our time is now, our place is where he has us, and our people are the friends and relationships right in front of us.

We struggle with this – often trying to figure out his purpose for us – like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz not realizing our hearts desire is in our own backyard.  Or we struggle because we tried to believe like this but felt it did not work out so we assumed we didn’t have faith or we are out of God’s will.

But Paul struggled with these unfulfilled longings and unexpected setbacks too – longing to go to places that he was not able to Rom 1:13 to and frequently getting thwarted in his endeavors.  2 Cor 11:24:29 He didn’t allow this to shake his faith in his mission from God. To Paul, these difficulties were evidential proof that he had enemies in spiritual realms and that God’s purposes where bigger than him but God was always faithful even if we couldn’t understand.

Paul trusted that God loved him and that he was on God’s mission regardless of the situations and circumstances that came his way.  He looked for ways to glorify God in them all – for the impossible to become an opportunity for God to do the extraordinary. 

Is this the faith you’re experiencing? Does your faith know God is in the middle of all our circumstances? Does your faith recognize and accept the responsibility to love and minister to the relationships God has provided. We are sent and when we realize that, we will be able to encourage others in Christ the way Paul built into the heart of the Galatians – with the grace and peace from God.

3Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Tags: , ,

My son, Jeremy, and I visited John Brown university a few years ago. The walls of their arts center have different quotes written in a variety of typefaces.  It is an unexpectedly interesting effect.  As you come in the main doors, one of the first quotes you see is. “In the beginning, God created…

I’d never really separated this part of the sentence from the rest, as you might when doing a grammar lesson.  God (noun) created (verb) the heavens and the earth (object).  We and all creation are the objects of God’s energy in creation.  

In the beginning, God created…  Independent of the object of his creation – us – God is a creator. God is the creator.  We could simplify further.

In the beginning, God… He is the beginning and end.

But later we see that “God created man in his own image“.  If God is a creator and he created us in his image, then what does that say about us and our inheritance from Him. 

Are we not supposed to create our lives for his glory?

We should love creatively and live creatively longing for the shadow creativity that we possess to showcase the glory or God in us and to lift us up to where we see him face-to-face for eternity.

We can’t do this alone though. We are created in his image to bear his spirit.  When we let his love and his life abide in us, then and only then can his creative love and life flow out of our existence giving it eternal purpose and value.

Tags: ,

Getting back into the swing of things after the holidays is a bit daunting – trying to recall the next steps on projects that I had let slip into the back corner in the basement of my mind.  This year, I think I put a few sacks of dirt on top of them too.  But it is good to begin to re-establish some routine – especially where the children are concerned.

The routines I most missed by the intrusion of the holidays were the weekly gatherings with friends that keep me going.  So I was excited that our weekly fellowship kicked off again this evening with dinner at the Texan Café in Hutto. I decided this afternoon to also invite all my new Facebook friends to this upcoming event with my old friends in hopes of enticing a few of them to join us.

Hutto’s festive but rural downtown area is a relaxing place to meet friends for comfort food and cozy conversation.  How many scenes in scripture center around Jesus breaking bread with his friends or even sinners?  Food and fellowship are meant to go together. Some of the best desserts in the region with a great cup of hot coffee make for a perfect finish.  The blackberry cobbler is heavenly except for the seeds getting stuck in your teeth.  How blessed to meet again in this new year with the friends we’ve been parted from during the holidays and to have friends from my Facebook invite show up as well.

20080219-hbu-dragon-fly-004-crop

As we met tonight discussing our holiday activities, resolutions for the new year, current trials and blessings, I was struck by the reality of the presence of Christ amongst us.  One of our friends shared an insight about his holiday connections on Facebook.  He told us how sad he was to discover that most of the old friends from his Catholic school growing up now claim to be atheist in their profiles.  Religion is so bereft of life. 

But religion is not what we at the Texan Café tonight share.  We know Jesus Christ who loved us and gave himself for us.  He has become our very life so we are not just friends as we sup, but true brothers and sisters – children of the Most High, God – and we call him Father.  Because of this, I have a real place, a true family, and significance in all of my life.  I do not have to look for miracles or significance – it is right here with me in the midst of this family of mine, eating at the Texan Café in Hutto of all places.  What we share in this single moment connects us with each other and God for all eternity.

A few nights ago, an old friend of mine that I’ve known for 30 years and who now lives in Arizona opened a chat session with me on Facebook.  We talked for awhile about activities, jobs, family, kids – all the stuff you need to know to catch up when you haven’t visited for many years.  This dear friend has been on my heart many times in my life.  Her journey has had more harsh terrain than most of us.  When I first knew her, we were only kids and, while religion was some small part of our upbringing, we did not know Christ.

Later in my life, God blessed me to reveal his son in me and I have been walking with him now for about 25 years.  Suddenly, in the midst of discussing thirty years of disconnected life, my Arizona friend confided that she is seeking to know God and asks me if I would be willing to provide some guidance. We discussed it for a bit, chatting back and forth, sharing the confusion of our religious heritage compared to the peace, freedom, love, and joy that are available in Christ Jesus.  I shared with her the awe and acceptance I felt when I read the words of Jesus discovering he loved sinners while the only groups he was ever harsh with were the pride-filled, ultra religious who kept men from having relationship with God.

After making some recommendations for her and we agreeing to continue our discussion later, I went to bed praising God for this shared moment and praying for my friend.  Tonight, as I sat and broke bread with my local friends, I came away even more urgently pleading with God for this woman.  Many of the people at dinner tonight have had very difficult roads in life too.  Some are going through them now – but they have something my Arizona friend does not have.  They have fellowship with our Father and with brothers and sisters.  They also carry with them the gift of the secret things of God – that Jesus Christ has been resurrected in them as their very life.

I pray that this gift – this new, eternal life and family will soon reside in the heart of my long-loved Arizona friend.  I pray that anyone reading this blog who lives in the shadow life deprived and longing for true relationship, significance, joy and peace will accept this gift as well.  If we never get a chance to meet for comfort food and cozy conversation at the Texan Café in Hutto, I hope we can meet as brother and sisters at our Lord’s banquet table eternally basking in the glory of our Father who loves us.  There, religion and all other confusions have long been forgotten.  And on that day, if we want it, I think perhaps we might even have blackberry cobbler that doesn’t leave seeds stuck in our teeth.

Take a moment and comment – let me know what you think about this entry: the good, the bad, the ugly.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Getting back into the swing of things after the holidays is a bit daunting – trying to recall the next steps on projects that I had let slip into the back corner in the basement of my mind.  This year, I think I put a few sacks of dirt on top of them too.  But it is good to begin to re-establish some routine – especially where the children are concerned.

The routines I most missed by the intrusion of the holidays were the weekly gatherings with friends that keep me going.  So I was excited that our weekly fellowship kicked off again this evening with dinner at the Texan Café in Hutto. I decided this afternoon to also invite all my new Facebook friends to this upcoming event with my old friends in hopes of enticing a few of them to join us.

Hutto’s festive but rural downtown area is a relaxing place to meet friends for comfort food and cozy conversation.  How many scenes in scripture center around Jesus breaking bread with his friends or even sinners?  Food and fellowship are meant to go together. Some of the best desserts in the region with a great cup of hot coffee make for a perfect finish.  The blackberry cobbler is heavenly except for the seeds getting stuck in your teeth.  How blessed to meet again in this new year with the friends we’ve been parted from during the holidays and to have friends from my Facebook invite show up as well.

20080219-hbu-dragon-fly-004-crop

As we met tonight discussing our holiday activities, resolutions for the new year, current trials and blessings, I was struck by the reality of the presence of Christ amongst us.  One of our friends shared an insight about his holiday connections on Facebook.  He told us how sad he was to discover that most of the old friends from his Catholic school growing up now claim to be atheist in their profiles.  Religion is so bereft of life. 

But religion is not what we at the Texan Café tonight share.  We know Jesus Christ who loved us and gave himself for us.  He has become our very life so we are not just friends as we sup, but true brothers and sisters – children of the Most High, God – and we call him Father.  Because of this, I have a real place, a true family, and significance in all of my life.  I do not have to look for miracles or significance – it is right here with me in the midst of this family of mine, eating at the Texan Café in Hutto of all places.  What we share in this single moment connects us with each other and God for all eternity.

A few nights ago, an old friend of mine that I’ve known for 30 years and who now lives in Arizona opened a chat session with me on Facebook.  We talked for awhile about activities, jobs, family, kids – all the stuff you need to know to catch up when you haven’t visited for many years.  This dear friend has been on my heart many times in my life.  Her journey has had more harsh terrain than most of us.  When I first knew her, we were only kids and, while religion was some small part of our upbringing, we did not know Christ.

Later in my life, God blessed me to reveal his son in me and I have been walking with him now for about 25 years.  Suddenly, in the midst of discussing thirty years of disconnected life, my Arizona friend confided that she is seeking to know God and asks me if I would be willing to provide some guidance. We discussed it for a bit, chatting back and forth, sharing the confusion of our religious heritage compared to the peace, freedom, love, and joy that are available in Christ Jesus.  I shared with her the awe and acceptance I felt when I read the words of Jesus discovering he loved sinners while the only groups he was ever harsh with were the pride-filled, ultra religious who kept men from having relationship with God.

After making some recommendations for her and we agreeing to continue our discussion later, I went to bed praising God for this shared moment and praying for my friend.  Tonight, as I sat and broke bread with my local friends, I came away even more urgently pleading with God for this woman.  Many of the people at dinner tonight have had very difficult roads in life too.  Some are going through them now – but they have something my Arizona friend does not have.  They have fellowship with our Father and with brothers and sisters.  They also carry with them the gift of the secret things of God – that Jesus Christ has been resurrected in them as their very life.

I pray that this gift – this new, eternal life and family will soon reside in the heart of my long-loved Arizona friend.  I pray that anyone reading this blog who lives in the shadow life deprived and longing for true relationship, significance, joy and peace will accept this gift as well.  If we never get a chance to meet for comfort food and cozy conversation at the Texan Café in Hutto, I hope we can meet as brother and sisters at our Lord’s banquet table eternally basking in the glory of our Father who loves us.  There, religion and all other confusions have long been forgotten.  And on that day, if we want it, I think perhaps we might even have blackberry cobbler that doesn’t leave seeds stuck in our teeth.

Take a moment and comment – let me know what you think about this entry: the good, the bad, the ugly.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

“You believe at last!” Jesus answered. But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”   -John 16:31-33

I believe in the Lord – not just that he exist – but that he died bearing all the sins of the world past, present and future.  I believe that by believing that and asking his death to count for my sins and asking his resurrected life to become my own, that Jesus becomes the Lord and my very life rather than Satan or myself.  This is my faith.  This I believe.

Yet, like my brothers, the disciples, how often do I leave Jesus alone and go back to my old home and old haunts. I paint pictures of Egypt and leave out what it lacks (see Sara Grove’s song).   “The time is coming and has come”, Jesus says-and so it goes with me.  I am scattered by these fears and pains and I run.  As Sara adds, it not about losing faith or trust – it just about being comfortable.  That old home is so known and comfortable even though it is meaningless and futile.  It can no longer fulfill me but it is so easy to escape to.

In 2000, I took a 10 day journey through the back country of Philmont Scout Reservation with my oldest son, Justin, and a group of Boy Scouts and adult leaders.  We had to carry everything we needed for the entire journey on our backs.  Our trek led us away from base camp to the furthest point away before bringing us back.  For us the furthest point away was climbing to the second highest mountain in Philmont, Mt. Philips, and staying the night.  The climb was well above the water line so we would have no access to water from the base camp the day we started until after the descent the next day.

As a result, we split gear from one of the adults, my friend, Gary, and he carried half his gear plus 5 gallons of water on his back.  It was a very difficult thing for him as he slowly paced up the mountain because he had had knee issues before.   He slowly kept going at an even pace even when the scouts would sprint faster ahead then rest from exhaustion.  It was like the tortoise and the hare all the way up. The air was so thin at the top of the mountain that you would wake up from sleep feeling as if you were suffocating.  It was a difficult part of our trek.

Gary and I found a great analogy to our half-hearted walk with Christ in that place. Being at the half way point, any accident we would have encountered – it would take just as long to press forward as to go back.  There was no escaping the difficulty of the journey.  Gary kept pressing on because there was no option.  But in our Christian adventure, we can walk in the spirit one minute, but when we feel overwhelmed by that, we can turn our minds and hearts from him the next and simply return to the comfort of the couch, the TV and the tangible.

We may leave Jesus alone, but he is not alone – his Father is with him.  We may feel we are alone and long for home, but we are not – our Father is with us.  We need to learn to weep in those moments as men longing for our real home as Rich Mullins shares in his wonderful song, If I Stand.   Sara gets to this idea too – “The place I had wasn’t perfect But I had found a way to live It wasn’t milk or honey But then neither is this”.  We think that part of our longing for comfort is the desire to get back to what we know – but when we examine it, we find “the places that used to fit me cannot hold the things I”ve learned” and that our real longing is to fully know him who we can only see dimly now. 

Recognizing that we are our weeping is a longing for our heavenly home is helpful.  It isn’t so much that we want those old, familiar death clothes, that we want to return.  It is that we long to see Him face-to-face.  Proverbs 13:12 clarifies this, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”  Don’t we really long for the tree of life?   Philippians 3:20 says, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ”.  Also, we are longing to be free from sin and this longing that pulls us back and on that day, our flesh and the world and God’s adversaries will no longer plague us.  It is helpful to identify our longing, not for the comfort of what was behind but for the glory that is before us so we can set our minds in that direction.  Phil 4:8 “But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope.”  Galatians 5:5

Perhaps the most fascinating thing Jesus says to the disciples in this passage is, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.”  If we were telling our friends that they were going to abandon us in our time of need, it would be likely that they would feel shame, incredulousness, or maybe fear.  Our master has caught us in our selfishness and accused us of betrayal.  But Jesus tells them that he is sharing this with them that they may have peace.  He says that peace is in Him.  

When we get scared or overwhelmed and we look back to Egypt and to our comfortable living room couch and we scatter and leave Jesus alone, we may find a temporary comfort but we do not find what we are longing for.  And we also find, amidst our comfort-seeking distractions, a voice of guilt and accusation.   This voice that says, “See! That adventure toward Jesus is really not for you.  You were wise to save yourself from that discomfort.”   But the truth is we’ve buried our head in our comforts but that does not make our troubles go away.  Jesus told the disciples to remember that, “in me you may have peace”, and he then tells them, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world”.

We turn back to our comforts, we find that they do not fit us anymore and we find our adversaries ready to plague us.   Shortly, we find that we long for peace more than comfort and we race back into the arms of our Savior, the source of peace and life.  We are discovering our dependence on him.  We cannot make our world work or find what we need – but Jesus, and Jesus alone, has overcome the world.

In another place in the Gospel of John (6:67-69), many disciples of Jesus decide to leave him and Jesus asks the twelve, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” and Peter answers him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

Tags: , , , , ,

I came across a quote today by one of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis:

In the midst of a world of light and love, of song and feast and dance, [Lucifer] could find nothing to think of more interesting than his own prestige.

Wow!  I hope we are not the same but I suspect we often are.  We are so caught up in ourselves that we miss everything going on around us – the infinite amount of gifts God bestows upon us.  While we are rarely aware of it, every single unconscious breath is a gift.  While we usually don’t notice, our brain is continually deciphering between 50,000 distinct cataloged smells.  While we barely think about it, the human hand performs thousands of intricate movements without us directly telling it to do so and with no conscious thought.

And surrounding these fabulous luxuries and all the others inherent in our bodies are all the gifts of creation at our disposal – an endless adventure of the senses and the spirit which we mostly ignore while we’re camped out in the AC in front of the TV watching ET or some other mind-numbing, life-sucking fictional/barbiturate IV.  Not saying that this is all bad but the excessiveness of it and the distraction of it away from that which really matters and the many other life-giving pursuits is fabulously ungrateful and mindless in response to what we’ve been given.  Clearly, we live in a culture where we live mostly lives of privilege, and think of most of our privileges as rights.

But I’m not really writing about us or Lucifer.  What I’m enthralled about is that despite Lucifer and his deception, despite our fallen state, and despite the world and its foolish misappropriation of creations gifts — God has provided it with an extravagance that is overwhelming when we get past our selves long enough to consider it.  What an amazing, loving Father!!!

On the surface, it is hard to say that God is wasteful.  It seems wrong.  But there is a certain sense where this seems obvious too.  That he would give up His son Jesus for the chance of the hearts of those who called themselves his enemies is an economy hard for us to comprehend.

I once shared a story about a man who chose between saving the life of his son who knew Christ or that of a friend of the son who did not.  It was an emotional story about how a Godly man might choose to go after the lost even at great personal cost.  The person I shared it with rejected the story commenting about how he could not get over the foolishness of such an economy. 

Perhaps this is why there are references in the Bible to the wisdom of God seems foolish to men 1 Cor 1:18 – though in reality, the foolishness of God is wiser than our wisdom 1 Cor 1:25 and the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God 1 Cor 3:19.

But even if God considers it necessary and worthwhile to send His son to die for us to redeem us and to overcome death (which can seem so foolishly wasteful to us), was it necessary to give us a billion stars at night, and massive oceans repeatedly pounding waves on the shore, hummingbirds, thousands of different types of flowers and plants and animals, the ability to imagine and create, endless different variations in the appearance of sunrise, sunset and the moon?  Do we really need to be able to distinguish 50,000 different smells? 

He has lavished us with so much more abundance than we can ever use of even be aware of.  We could easily fill several life times just trying to learn all that we could be thankful to Him for and still be less than 1% aware.  All of mankind’s story on earth and all of his learning, yet we still is seeing him in a dim and dark mirror.  It is hard to not see his abundance as wasteful from this perspective.

Yet with all this before us – we still miss God.  Another quote of Lewis from The Weight of Glory spells out the reality:

“If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desire, not too strong, but too weak
We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Perhaps God does need all these methods — all this wastefulness — just to get through to those he loves.  It is like the way a young man is "wasteful" in wooing the woman he loves, pouring out all sorts of praise and gifts upon her.  Perhaps, God’s "wastefulness" only seems that way to us because we don’t like His girlfriend so much – the way a parent or friends of the young man will council him, "she’s not worth it".  Of course, if the young man loves the girl, none of these brutish admonishments mean anything.   So this too should be an encouraging gift to us – God clearly loves us because we ourselves can argue "we are not worth it" and yet, Christ is fully committed to his bride.

In reading A.W. Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy, and looking at God’s attributes and considering specifically the attribute of "faithfulness", we can see that all God’s attributes are true at all time – this is what His attribute of faithfulness means.  So God is faithful to us at all times, even when we are not faithful to him.  And this is not because of who we are, but because of who He is. And He is faithful!  But he is not just faithful to us – that might be easy since we are so happy with mud pies.  He is faithful to Himself.  Since that level of faithfulness is infinitely above what we need, His faithfulness to us is more than secure – it is part of who He is, for his sake, for his glory Is 48:11

God’s wastefulness is only wastefulness in the economy of men who are too foolish to see that the wastefulness is all part of God’s glory and he is showing it to us “24/7/365/a life time” because that’s who He is. Because of who He is, he longs to know us and bless us, simply because He loves us – even if we do not love him.   If we’re appalled by that wastefulness, there is but one solution, accept Him!  Then, in view of all these mercies, gifts, and lavish, abundant wastefulness of the lover-king toward his beloved, give him all of yourself daily and forever since you know that without doing so, your life would be truly wasted.

Lately, I’ve been reading Pray All Ways by Edward M. Hayes who shares dozens of ways to have a rich fellowship with our Father through every aspect of our lives – a way to recognize and give ourselves to him in all the day-to-day gifts He gives us.  I highly recommend it as well as The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer.    Also, a beautiful representation of the love of God toward us – in the context to the difficulties and tragedies of life can be found in The Shack by Paul Young – here is a cool blog and video with the author:

·         http://catalystroadtrip.com/2008/03/27/the-wastefulness-of-grace-paul-young-ernie-johnson/

That book ends with a great quote with I will end this post with it:

Earth’s crammed with heaven,

And every common bush afire with God,

But only he who sees takes off his shoes;

The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

        – Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

« Older entries § Newer entries »