Rules

Rules

If you are fortunate enough to have children, there is a good chance you have heard questions like, “Why do I have to go to bed now?” It seems we are born with a bent to go against the rules. Yet most would agree that life without rules would get pretty complicated.

Imagine:
• A sporting event without sidelines or umpires
• An office without a policy and procedure manual
• A business with no hours

We understand the need for rules to maintain order. But sometimes rules can get in the way.
rules
Luke 13:10-17
And He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And there was a woman who for eighteen years had had a sickness caused by a spirit; and she was bent double, and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your sickness.” And He laid His hands on her; and immediately she was made erect again and began glorifying God. But the synagogue official, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, began saying to the crowd in response, “There are six days in which work should be done; so come during them and get healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites, does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the stall and lead him away to water him? “And this woman, a daughter of Abraham as she is, whom Satan has bound for eighteen long years, should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath day?” As He said this, all His opponents were being humiliated; and the entire crowd was rejoicing over all the glorious things being done by Him.

Jewish society had a list of rules about the Sabbath. I am sure the woman in these verses was fired up that Jesus came to the synagogue that day. But the synagogue official was so focused on rules he missed the miracle!

My good friend Jerry Price (co-author of Beyond Betrayal and Sandusky Bay) has taught me many things. One that I think about often is the difference between intent and impact. Some rules may have been created with good intentions, but the impact may not be good. This does not mean we don’t have to obey those in authority. If rules are in effect we need to follow them. But we have the right to ask why.

And we need to ask ourselves if we have made rules with good intent that have not had good impact.

Ascent…

PSALMS OF ASCENT

As mentioned in an earlier blog, I was given a wonderful gift this past spring…a trip to Israel. It was an amazing time for Carin and me to see the context of the scriptures. Any of you that have made that journey understand the impact such a trip can have.

ascent

One of the most moving moments was standing on the steps to the temple and learning about the Psalms of Ascent. Psalms 120—134 make up this package of prayers. Ascent means “going up.”
These psalms were to be sung when the children of Israel came to Jerusalem and ascended to the top of Mount Zion three times a year, where they would hold a feast before the Lord. The physical ascent of the Israelites up Mount Zion is a ‘type,’ or a picture.

“Some scholars, with greater probability, have assumed that the word, ascents, refers to Israel’s going up to Jerusalem (which was in the high mountains of Judea) at the three annual feasts.

There are still other scholars who think that these fifteen psalms were composed to be sung upon the flight of fifteen steps leading from the outer court to the inner court of the Temple. According to faint echoes found here and there in the Talmud and midrashic literature of the Jewish rabbis, the theory is advanced that one of these songs was sung upon each of this flight of fifteen steps.

Still other students of the Word think that we are to interpret the word ascents spiritually and understand that these songs are speaking of progress and development in the spiritual life.

The explanation which seems to coincide with all of the facts as they appear in this collection of psalms is that our term, ascents, speaks of Israel’s return to God and restoration to fellowship with the Almighty in terms of the Jews’ going up from all parts of the land to Jerusalem to appear before Jehovah and to worship Him there..

Taken from: http://www.biblicalresearch.info/page112.html

The first Psalm of Ascent, Psalm 120, begins, “In my distress I called out to Jehovah.” This is a picture of regeneration. When we first cried out to the Lord, we were saved. The last Psalm of Ascent, Psalm 134, begins, “Bless Jehovah now, all you servants of Jehovah who stand by night in the house of Jehovah.” Here we see servants of the Lord who are no longer in the world, but in the Lord’s house. They stand “by night,” which refers to the time immediately before the Lord comes back. These servants are those who are standing for God’s testimony and are exercising in the church life to bring the Lord back. Therefore, these fifteen short psalms give us an overall picture of our Christian growth from regeneration to the Lord’s return.

• Psalms 120-122 are the first stage, the stage of “vision.”
• The second stage, Psalms 123-125, focuses on our consecration. Out of our vision we come to a consecration.
• The third stage, Psalms 126-128, is the stage of enjoyment. Our consecration leads to a rich enjoyment of the Lord.
• The fourth stage, Psalms 129-131, we will call the stage of enlargement. Our enjoyment of the Lord eventually causes us to become an enlarged person.
• Then from our experience of enlargement we enter the final stage, the stage of maturity (Psalms 132-134).
Taken from http://www.jesusloversincleveland.org/English/bible/pofa/stage1/psalms1.htm

Imagine seeing all the tribes of Isreal going up these steps singing praises to God. As we think of our prayer life, may we enter with confidence but also reverence.

What to do with Alcoholics?

A few weeks back I sent a thought forwarded to me about alcohol. Many responded. Remember, that blog was not about having the occasional beer or glass of wine, but alcoholism. In light of that I am following up with this blog by Heather Koop. Gives a good perspective.

I get a lot of emails from people who’ve read Sober Mercies, which means so much to me. But I keep noticing how one particular line from the book keeps coming up. Last week, after three people in a row quoted the same sentence, I went back to read it in context (italicized below):

“The particular brand of love and loyalty that seemed to flow so easily here [in recovery meetings] wasn’t like anything I’d ever experienced, inside or outside of church.

But how could this be? How could a bunch of addicts and alcoholics manage to succeed at creating the kind of intimate fellowship so many of my Christian groups had tried to achieve and failed?
Many months would pass before I understood that people bond more deeply over shared brokenness than they do over shared beliefs.”

brokeness

Aha! Clearly, a lot of you have shared my experience—felt a lack of community in a church setting or been surprised by the depth of community in another kind of group. I think my conclusion resonated because it hints at the reason why. After lots of thought, here’s a more developed theory:

• When folks gather around a system of shared beliefs, the price of acceptance in the group is usually agreement, which means the greatest value—stated or not—is being right. Unfortunately, this often creates an atmosphere of fear and performance, which in turn invites conformity.
• But when people gather around a shared need for healing, the price of acceptance in the group is usually vulnerability, which means the greatest value—stated or not—is being real. This tends to foster an atmosphere of safety and participation, which in turn invites community.
I’m not saying recovery or support groups are good and church groups are bad. But I do think the latter could learn something from the former about how to create safe places where intimate community can happen.

Of course, we all face the same challenge on how to foster authentic connection. As much as our souls crave it, our ego fears it. For most of us, it’s fairly easy to share intellectual head space with someone: We know this, we think that. Not much risk there.

But inviting that person into our heart space where we may feel broken in places takes courage, sometimes even desperation.

Last week, a recently widowed friend of mine came to stay in our guest room for a week. As much as she was tempted to isolate at home, she had the bravery to finally admit she needs to be around people right now, and let them into her grief.

And here’s the beautiful part. Dave and I needed this, too. Since all our kids are long gone, her presence in our home felt like such a gift. Having her join us for dinner or watching TV—she in her pajamas—gave us a dose of that family feeling we keenly miss.

On this Good Friday, I find myself thinking about the crucifixion in the context of connection. How the Old Testament Law failed to bring mankind close enough to God. How God sent his Son to die—beaten and broken on the cross—so He could make his home in our very soul.

Maybe God understood that we bond more deeply over shared brokenness than we do over shared beliefs—not just with each other, but with him, too.
Heather Kopp

People who pass our way

People pass us each day. Some simply pass and some make an impact. Today I want to highlight one such special man in my life.
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This man modeled for me:
• How to serve others no matter the personal cost
• How to care about the small details of life
• How to go hard after a goal
• The honor of hard work
• That reading the Word is a private event
• To honor what we do more than honor what we get
• wear a pink shirt and shorts in the middle of winter

Glenn Johnson passed away on May 5, 2005. He was a model of this verse:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. @ Tim. 4:7
What a silent legacy he left for so many. I thank you, Jesus, for putting Glenn Johnson in my life.
“Well done, good and faithful servant!”

May we all learn to appreciate those God has given us as friends and mentors.
May we also remember that those individuals will not always be with us. Thank and appreciate them while they are still here.

Is your life COLORLESS??

Part of your summer activities may include repainting a room in your home, touching up woodwork or painting outdoor furniture. All of these things seem to require our attention at some point. My favorite part of projects like these is walking through the paint store. It’s the application that takes time and skill!

painting

Each year there are newer, brighter colors to capture the attention. It’s pretty wild to think that someone is getting paid to come up with the next knock out color. I have never toured a paint factory, but I can image the smells and the variety of colors being mixed to come up with the next season’s trend.

So how can paint color have spiritual application? We need those few people who are skilled in pigmentation, chemistry and business to provide the paint. It is necessary for us to be able to paint. But the rest of us need to do the painting. It’s similar to our spiritual lives. We are often applauded for researching the scriptures, finding new and exciting truths. But most of us are called to apply truth.

How do we apply truth?
• Understand our calling
• Listen to those who speak truth
• Obedience to the truth
• Encourage those who need some color in their lives.

Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ. Phil. 1:27
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22

Secret lover…

WOW.. A very powerful read in my opinion!

The “perfect companion” vs. THE PERFECT COMPANION

The one who feels lost, alone, and overwhelmed finds an eerie comfort in the arms of alcohol.

Alcohol listens when nobody else has time, soothes bitter realities that nobody can make go away, doesn’t rebuke or interrupt negative thinking and offers immediate comfort. It even alleviates physical pain, stress, and brings sleep or laughter- the most vital elements of human relief.

Alcohol becomes the primary relationship ~ the “perfect companion” always there to meet an immediate need that other relationships fail to do. Immediate family and close friends fall to the background.
This “perfect companion” begins to show up anytime, anywhere. She is without boundaries.

AlcoholParents, spouses, children, siblings, friends are very aware of her presence, she is an Un-welcomed guest. But the one who invited her “perfect companion” to the party believes she is perfectly hidden.

This belief trickles over into all facets of the life of the one who feels lost, alone and overwhelmed.

In order for this “perfect relationship” to continue, hiding becomes the norm. Stories are created to protect the “perfect relationship” and anyone who comes up against these stories is pushed away. In fact, anyone who challenges these stories is seen as the “imperfect companion”.

The ones who are trustworthy and true become the enemies, the spies, the threat to the “perfect relationship”. Reality is flipped upside down and spun for all those involved. Intentions are misunderstood. The definition of love becomes blurry. All feel impacted by the downward spin cycle but nobody can seem to stop it.

This “perfect companion” eventually deadens the VOICE of TRUTH, VOICE of REASON, VOICE of LOVE. The one who feels lost can’t find THE WAY, THE TRUTH, THE LIFE. She/He has numbed every part of their physical, emotional and spiritual self.- poisoning body, soul and mind. This “perfect companion” has the one who is lost, alone and overwhelmed wrapped up so tightly he/ she is no longer able to feel His touch, Hear His Voice or Hold on to His Truth.

Now the only PERFECT COMPANION is shut out. He will not share space in the souls of His Beloveds.

He is the only one designed to truly meet our most desperate needs. He goes by the very names of “Comforter”, “Deliverer”, “Advocate”, “Friend” “All-Knowing” “The ONE Who sees”, “Healer”, “Redeemer”.

He does not demand to be invited to the party, But if He is, true miracles can happen. Not only water to wine, but wine to LIVING WATER. A Cleansing, refreshing, soul-quenching, life-giving drink of something that doesn’t promise to take away the pain- but promises to be WITHIN the pain. A drink that will not overwhelm but promises to OVERCOME. A PERFECT COMPANIoN that will LEAD the lost to TRUTH and HOPE and the WAY out—Anonymous

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More FEAR!!

Today we continue our discussion about Fear.

Too often fear is a topic we hesitate to discuss.

Maybe we think if we do not talk about fear, the fear will go away.
Maybe we are too proud to admit our fears.
Maybe we are afraid of what the answers to our problems might be.

In some crazy way, we may want to live in the emotions of fear to gain sympathy or care.

The fact is we all experience fear. I have yet to meet a person who does not.

But fear is variable.

One person’s fears may seem so trite to another observer. Why is that? Maybe it’s because circumstances, backgrounds and memories differ. One person’s emotions can run on at a totally different level than a second person’s emotion.  To the one experiencing fear, it can be a real battle.

Fear has the potential to paralyze us once given the opportunity to penetrate our brain and soul. We may begin to see every event and activity thru the lens of a particular fear. It can rob us of our joy and ability to truly live life to its fullest.

There are healthy fears:

Walking down a dark alley
Being in a new unfamiliar setting
Walking in a dangerous location with little margin for error
Watching a close football game

Many times these types of fears subside over time.

But some fears linger and are not healthy.  They become our “Mind Monsters”.

How do you handle to following?

Fear of rejection?
Fear of the unknown?
Leaving a comfortable place for a new home or location?
The fear of being discovered for who you really are?
Betrayal?
Death?

Why not interact with me about your fears and how you handle them? Becoming vulnerable may just help  someone conquer what they are going through.

As I leave you to ponder your fears, let me also leave you with some hope.

Isaiah 41:13 “For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

Hebrews 13:6 “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can Man do to me”?

Psalm 56:3-4 “When I am afraid, I will trust in you. IN God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me”?

1 Peter 3: 13-14 “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.”