Get Up and Glow Pt. 7

 In yesterday’s post it was mentioned that getting up and getting on with life is necessary…

But not only is getting up necessary getting up is possible!

The word of God says in Isaiah 59- “My Spirit will not leave them, and neither will these words I have given you. They will be on your lips and on the lips of your children and your children’s children forever. I, the LORD, have spoken!”

I recently had lunch with two Bible translators from Papua New Guinea. It turns out when they were newly married they lived in the town next to me. One of the missionaries worked in a local factory. They lived in an apartment fifteen minutes from my home. These missionaries are  just regular folk like you and  me. Yet God has called them to this incredible work half way across the world. In their time as missionaries these “regular folk” have faced thievery, life threatening sicknesses and near fatal accidents. Their computer system with the translation on it and their back-ups have crashed because of computer viruses causing them to almost lose the translation. They have been threatened and even carjacked at gun point. The place they live is so violent that just a few months ago one of the missionaries was in her bedroom reading when she heard gun shots out in the street. Her first reaction was not to duck and cover. Instead she calmly stayed on the bed and made a mental note to remind their 18-year-old to be careful when he went to the store because “there are people shooting today.”

How does this couple keep getting up day after day to pursue the things of God? They do it by the power of the Spirit. They have recognized that giving up is not an option… that getting up is necessary. They have also realized that with the power of the Holy Spirit getting up is possible.

The Holy Spirit is a well of limitless power. No force in the universe can stand against Him: By the Holy Spirit the waters of the red Sea parted! By the power of the Holy Spirit demons bowed before Jesus! By the power of the Holy Spirit Corrie Tenboom prayed over a bottle of vitamin C drops in Ravensbruck concentration camp. The bottle never went dry for a full year! By the power of the Holy Spirit Elizabeth Elliot and her friends marched  into the jungle to evangelize the tribe who had murdered their husbands. The  tribe was converted to Christianity!The list goes on. By the power of the Holy Spirit you can get up!

What are you believing the Holy Spirit to do in your life? Arise Christian!

Get Up and Glow Pt.2

Almost 70 years ago Elie Wiesel was a fifteen-year old prisoner in the Nazi death camp at Buna. A cache of arms belonging to a Dutchman had been discovered at the camp. The man was promptly shipped to Auschwitz. But he had a young servant boy, a pipel as they were called, a child with a refined and beautiful face, unheard of in the camps. He had the face of a sad angel. The little servant, like his Dutch master, was cruelly tortured, but would not reveal any information. So the SS sentenced the child to death, along with two other prisoners who had been discovered with arms. Wiesel tells the story:

One day when we came back from work, we saw three gallows rearing up in the assembly place, three black crows. Roll call. SS all around us; machine guns trained: the traditional ceremony. Three victims in chains–and one of them, the little servant, the sad- eyed angel. The SS seemed more preoccupied, more disturbed than usual. To hang a young boy in front of thousands of spectators was no light matter. The head of the camp read the verdict. All eyes were on the child. He was lividly pale, almost calm, biting his lips. The gallows threw its shadow over him. This time the Lagercapo refused to act as executioner. Three SS replaced him. The three victims mounted together onto the chairs. The three necks were placed at the same moment within the nooses. “Long live liberty!” cried the two adults. But the child was silent. “Where is God? Where is He?” someone behind me asked. Total silence throughout the camp. On the horizon, the sun was setting. “Bare your heads!” yelled the head of the camp. His voice was raucous. We were weeping. “Cover your heads!” Then the march past began. The two adults were no longer alive. Their tongues hung swollen, blue-tinged. but the third rope was still moving; being so light, the child was still alive…For more than half an hour he stayed there, struggling between life and death, dying in slow agony under our eyes. And we had to look him full in the face. He was still alive when I passed in front of him. His tongue was still red, his eyes were not yet glazed. Behind me, I heard the same man asking: “Where is God now?” And I heard a voice within me answer him: “Where is He? Here He is–He is hanging here on this gallows..” That night the soup tasted corpses.

Elie Wiesel, Night, Bantam, 1982, p. 75-6, quoted in When God Was Taken Captive, W. Aldrich, Multnomah, 1989, p. 39-41.

 

This story like the first verses of our Scripture reading in Isaiah reminds us that in this world justice is a rare commodity. Life often seems to work against us. We rise only to get knocked down. Like the man walking behind Elie Wiesel we wonder “Where is God now?” It’s at such times we are tempted to take the stance of Rabbi Kushner in His book , When Bad Things Happen To Good People.   We want to say “God is good but there are some things He just can’t fix because He isn’t all-powerful.”

Have you ever felt that God didn’t have the power to help? 

Heaven Pt. 65

 

“And she (Rahab) said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that [were] on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard [these things], our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he [is] God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.” Josh. 2:9-11

In this passage of Scripture the enemies of God are quaking with fear because the people of God are marching onto the scene. Are the enemies of God afraid of the people? No the confession of Rahab is that the people of Canaan fear the Israelites because of the God that backs them up!

It is so easy for us to forget whose we are. We get into the middle of a life struggle and we forget that God is on our side. Sometimes we go one step further and we forget that we are on His side. That’s when life gets really sticky. That’s when the tide turns in our life battles and we begin to lose.

Have you forgotten God is on your side? Have you let the enemy convince you that you are certain to lose unless you fight in the flesh? Don’t believe the lie! Put yourself back in line with God’s blessings for you are made more than a conqueror!

Let’s pray: Father God you see my battles. I confess I have been at times tempted to doubt your mighty hand. I come today to renew my faith and to declare that I belong to a mighty God who will see me through to victory! I may have to battle but God I trust You to guard and preserve me through it all! In Jesus name A-men!

What I Learned About Love From My Front Porch Again

I had a pretty good garden this year. I had a bumper oregano harvest. The bergamot was amazing. I’ve already made a gallon of spaghetti sauce out of my tomatoes and a gallon of raspberry jam. I even had plants growing under my porch!

Both the bittersweet and the anise hyssop were complete surprises because they popped up by themselves with certainly no coaxing from me.

Now I have tried hard to grow anise hyssop in the past. I love the licorice flavored tea the leaves produce. But all my attempts to grow this supposedly simple-to-grow herb, have met with failure or  with stunted little twigs which hardly supply a cup of tea.

Then last year I was walking up my drive and lo and behold there it was peeking out from under my porch, anise hyssop! The plant in the picture at the right is easily three feet tall at two years old. It has already run off two babies which are  taller and hardier than the three-year old midget plant I have in my formal herb garden.

I cut the bittersweet back the other day so I could make some fall wreaths. Some of the vines were ten feet long!

I have learned that some things just grow better in a sheltered environment.

Paul wrote, “It (love) always protects.” I Cor. 13:7 NIV

The Greek word means:

to deck,to thatch, to cover

a) to protect or keep by covering, to preserve

2) to cover over with silence

a) to keep secret

b) to hide, conceal

1) of the errors and faults of others

3) by covering to keep off something which threatens, to bear up against, hold out against, and so endure, bear, forbear.

You know people are like anise hyssop and bittersweet. They grow best in a sheltered environment protected from the nastier elements of the world.

The Lord knew this and so He said things like this:

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” Prov. 18:1

The love of the Lord is a protection against the cold winds of life. We are called to be like the Lord in our love, always protecting. We are called to protect our loved ones dignity, privacy, and holiness.

I am interested in the fact that Paul chose to say “love always protects”. He did not say “love always rescues.”

Protecting really is being just like a porch. My back porch is not moving all around the back yard trying to cover this plant and that plant. It sits and waits for the seed to fall under its shelter. Then it does its job. It protects the seed so it can grow hidden away from the wickedness of the world.

God is the same. He doesn’t race around searching for people who aren’t trying to be found. He loves all, but if someone wants help they have to come into His presence to get it.

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to You. ” James 4:8 says.

In our love we are called to protect like God does. This doesn’t mean being an enabler for a loved one who is going down the tubes because of an addiction.

Protecting does not involve sitting by and footing the bill for your credit card enslaved husband when he runs short of cash. It means  getting him help. It means keeping his confidences when he comes clean about the real reason he is spending thousands more than he has, rather than telling your sister and your mother and so on and so on…. It means being like my porch covering him so he can strengthen and grow to be the man God wants him to be.

So let’s follow the way of love. Always protect.

Honorbound Again

      Every Christmas churches around the world reenact the story of the birth of Jesus. Proud parents look on as little Johnny leads little Sally down the church aisle pretending to be Joseph to her Mary.

     Year after year as the tradition plays itself out people are touched by the sweetness of this young couple, lost in an unfriendly Bethlehem. Congregants smile and maybe shed a nostalgic tear as the children/magi gather around the altar to bring homage to the Christ child and his mother.

    In every portrayal I have seen Joseph is left off in the corner. No one is looking at him, not the shepherds, not the magi. Joseph’s job is done when he gets the girl to the stable. But what a job that had to be!

     “Love is not rude.” I Cor. 13: 5

      Now that may seem rather a violent segue to you: Christmas story… Joseph… “Love is not rude” On the surface they don’t seem to have a lot to do with each other. Just bear with me.

     “Love is not rude” is actually, “love is not aschēmoneō.

      Here in 21st century America being rude means being impolite.   

     When your mother says, “Don’t be rude!”, she means “Stop burping at the table” or “Quit picking your nose in front of Aunt Rosie. She’ll never pay for those piano lessons you want so much.”

      But in first century Corinth, When Paul wrote “Love is not rude.”, the word had a much different connotation. Rude to Paul was unseemly behavior that not only brought shame and reproach to you but to someone else as well.

     Paul was saying, “Love does not engage in behavior that puts other people in a dishonorable light.”

  In First Corinthians 7:36 Paul uses the word aschēmoneō  when he is explaining how an unmarried man should treat the girl he is betrothed to.

    “If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, [fn] if his [fn] passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry–it is no sin.” I Cor. 7:36 ESV

      Paul is teaching that a man needs to marry his fiancée if his passions are strong and that he should not bring disgrace upon her by behaving in inappropriate ways with her outside of marriage.

       You see love cannot bring disgrace on other people because it considers not only the wants of others but the honor of others as well. It is not love when a young man takes his girlfriend to bed and ruins her reputation. It is not friendship when a buddy asks you to break the law so that you can join his gang. It is biblical rudeness.

     Let’s  go back to Joseph. In the eyes of all Nazareth Joseph had the right to not only divorce Mary (even though they had not been officially married breaking of an engagement required a legal divorce in their culture) but to have her stoned to death. But Joseph was loving. He was not rude. He did not want to expose her to any dishonor if it could be avoided.

    In the end and with a little prodding from God and His angels Joseph took away Mary’s dishonor and Jesus’ by becoming the earthly husband and father Heaven had appointed him to be.

    Joseph was a man who protected the honor of his wife and the  child she bore. In that way he was not rude. In that way he loved greatly.

     What are some of the ways you can preserve the honor of those you love? How do you keep yourself from being rude?

Heaven Pt. 63

“And of Joseph  he said, Blessed of the LORD [be] his land , for the precious things  of heaven , for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath ,” Deut. 33:13 KJV
I am thankful for the rain! Because of the roses, I am even more thankful for the dew.  You see, every year at this time our yard bursts into bloom with multiple thousands of wild and cultivated roses.

The fragrant shafts burst forth from nearly a quarter acre of bushes that over the last twenty-five years have slowly encroached on the landscape. You may remember, that last year I had to cut the roses out of my crab apple tree.

But they have also climbed high into the beech and dogwood trees. They would truly be a nuisance if they did not smell so absolutely beautiful!

Here’s the thing about rose season. Too much rain makes the roses melt right off the vine. Roses like the dew of Heaven. It comes every night and slakes the thirst of the the ever seeking roots, but never gives so much moisture that the fragrant petals rot before they can release their gift.

I love the rain. It’s one of God’s gifts to a fallen world. But the dew, now that was God’s gift from Heaven before the fall.

“And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and [there was] not a man to till the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.” Ge. 2:5,6 KJV

Deuteronomy 33:13 reminds me that there is coming a restoration of all things! I wonder what a perfect world will look like! What do you think?

Pastor Wrinkles: Chapter Charts Pt. 92

As I read the chapters we are charting today I kept hearing the Spirit speak at the back of my mind “Have you given your all?”

Here is what I see in today’s chapters:

Deuteronomy chapter 26 sermon topics/ titles:

1. Does God’s Gift Come First? Deut. 26: 1-11

2. Is The Full Tithe Ready? Deut. 26: 12-15

3. He Will Set You In Praise, Fame, and Honor…If: Deut. 26:16-19

Deuteronomy chapter 27 sermon topics/titles:

1. Are His Words On Your Altar? Deut. 27:1-8

2. Not An Altar Of Effort: Deut. 27:1-8

3. Does Your ‘So Be It’ Line Up? Deut. 27: 9-26

Have you given your all to the Master? Tell me what you see here. 🙂

Pastor Wrinkles: Chapter Charts Pt. 90

Great Gugga-Mugga! We have arrived at our 90th episode of chapter charting! Thanks for joining in so far. Here is what I see in Deuteronomy chapter 22 and 23.

Deuteronomy chapter 22 sermon topics/ titles: 

1. You Are Your Brother’s Keeper: Deut: 22:1-4

2. Don’t Be A Bird Bully: Deut: 22:6,7 (Oh I can go places with that one)

3. Protect Your Innocence: Deut. 22: 23-30

Deuteronomy chapter 23 sermon topics/titles:

1. On Being Lot’s Son: Deut. 23: 3-6

2. Let’s Have A Clean Fight: Deut. 23: 9-14

3. Watch What You Spout About: Deut. 23: 23

Now tell me what you see! 🙂

Relentless Pt. 1

In light of what I have been writing the last few days…

https://jelillie.wordpress.com/2012/05/11/heaven-pt-58/?preview=true

https://jelillie.wordpress.com/2012/05/12/heaven-pt-58a/?preview=true

…and because God is a covenant making God we must begin to pursue Him relentlessly; This is not only for our benefit but for all those who have not yet come to understand the importance of keeping His covenant!

What follows is an excerpt from a recent sermon I preached called “Go Relentlessly After the One!”

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?” Mat. 18:12

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself  will not be disqualified for the prize.” I Cor. 9:24-27

I do a lot of talking about the end of the world. God has brought me up short on that recently. An end is coming and soon but it is not the end of the world. It is the end of an age. The church of Jesus Christ stands today on the brink of a great change of age. The world as we know it is groaning and changing and when the change is complete things will never be the same. Now, the Bible is clear that some of this change is going to be pretty cataclysmic; But I have some good news for you. The church of Jesus Christ survives and prospers through this change. The days we live in are not days of hopelessness and despair. These are not the days to be afraid or to run and hide. I believe that the days that lie ahead are going to be some of the church’s best days, challenging yes but supernatural in scope and experience.

I have heard it said we are in the post-Christian era . That is wrong thinking because Christ is the center of history and there is no post-Christ. He is the same yesterday and today and forever and we are not at the end of Christianity. I believe we are standing at the foot of one of the planet’s greatest revivals, because Jesus Christ is not finished. He’s just getting ready to come again! Church now is not the time for fear. It is the time for faith because God is on the march and He is about to go after His lost sheep relentlessly…just like He came after you and just like He came after me! God is on the look out for thousands of lost sheep.  Jesus has not changed at all. He got a hold of our lives and now He is out going after others and He intends to use us to do it!

Watch this!

More tomorrow!