Friday, January 23, 2009

When He Came to Himself...

So, I read Luke 15 today. We've all heard the parable of the Prodigal Son. I mean WE HAVE ALL HEARD IT...even someone who has never stepped foot into a church could probably tell the story. Its very popular.

Jesus told the story because at the beginning of the chapter bar owners, and tax collectors and all kinds of sinners drew near to Him to hear Him speak. When they did, the "righteous" pharisees grumbled and mumbled among themselves. "He hangs out with sinners. He even eats with them!" So Jesus, in His patient way, used a couple of metaphors to help them understand. He likened the situation to a shepherd who'd lost his sheep, or a lady who'd lost her jewelry. Even if you have all the rest, the missing one is so important that you will take time out to look for it. Jesus came to do just this. He came to seek and save the lost. He came to take time out to search for the misfits and to love them and to save them. What an amazing God!

Then Jesus further explains by telling the story of the prodigal son. We've heard it. A rich man has two sons. The younger one asks for his inheritance and goes off in to the big bad world to spend it all on the cares of life. He goes broke, and goes back to his Father, who accepts him with open arms. One line caught my attention, though. In verse 17 of the KJV, it says:

17 But when he came to himself he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish here with hunger!

But when he came to himself...

He came to brain automatically asks for an explanation..."So who the heck was he before?"

This is the lesson I learned from the Holy Spirit, my teacher: When we are in sin, living apart from God, we are not being who God created us to be. When we're not being who God has created us to be, we're not being ourselves. Living in sin is so dissatisfying because we're not ourselves. But when we realize that true life and happiness are found in walking with God, Jesus (the Light) enters in. We then start to become who we are in God. We start to remember that there is more pleasure found in being a servant in God's house, than being the life of the party anywhere else. Then we, like the prodigal son, go back to our Father, and we find Him running toward us with open arms. He grabs us and He holds us and He kisses us. And we're home again...

For the prodigal son, it took hitting the rockiest of bottoms before he came to himself...I feel like this generation has hit a bottom. There's so much evil in this world. But the wonderful part is this: Jesus came to seek and save THE LOST. And so I believe in my heart that there is hope for this generation. I'm praying for a mass revival. So that there will be a world wide coming-to-self that results in people running after God with abandon.

Give Us Clean Hands...

So...I've been pondering on what worship really is. Its all we really have to offer God, so I have GOT TO understand it, and do it right....

A while ago, I was OBSESSED with Romans 12. I just kept reading that one chapter day after day...and the part that I have a love/hate relationship with is in the first verse, NIV:

1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

I love this verse because it says to me that God is not asking for the perfect voice, playing the perfect chords, and singing the perfect scales...He just wants me to be set apart to give my life to Him. Now, in theory, this is very simple. Just don't sin. Live for God. So easy....right? You would think so, but unfortunately I'm forced to face my flesh. We all are. Everyday we have to make a conscious decision to die to self. We hear people say it all the time, but the very act of dying to self is not as simple as those few words sound. Its a process, and a battle of sorts that has to be fought and won daily. So the part I love about this verse is that God just wants me; not a lamb, or a song, but me...He wants my life. Now the "hate" part of my relationship is not a hatred for the verse, itself, but a hatred, more so, for the aforementioned daily battle. I hate fighting this flesh and dealing with my shortcomings. The process is very humbling and very hard. Its also very worth it.

Okay, so i was veering off track a little there. Back to worship. So worship is living a holy, sanctified, set-apart life. That's what the bible says so its gotta be true.

Just recently i read Psalm 29. Verse 2 in the KJV says:

2Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

So, I've read/heard this verse plenty of times. But recently it has come to mean so much more to me. I used to always assume that this verse was saying, "Worship God; He is holy and beautiful." But recently the Holy Spirit ministered to me and my mind changed. Now, to me, this verse says, "Be holy because God finds holiness beautiful. To Him, that is worship. More than a song or lifted hands; He finds a holy life to be a beautiful thing."

I want God to find me beautiful. I'm actually desperate for His approval. Holiness is key.

Here are the lyrics to a worship song has ministered to me so much in this season:

Give Us Clean Hands: written by Charlie Hall, my fave CCM version is performed by Chris Tomlin...

We bow our hearts
We bend our knees
Oh Spirit come make us humble
We turn our eyes
From evil things
Oh Lord we cast down our idols

So give us clean hands
And give us pure hearts
Let us not lift our souls to another
Oh give us clean hands
And give us pure hearts
Let us not lift our souls to another
Oh God let this be
A generation that seeks
Who seeks Your face, Oh God of Jacob
Oh God let us be
A generation that seeks
Who seeks Your face, Oh God of Jacob...

Psalm 51, Psalm 29, Hosea 6:1-3

Bon, Out!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sir, I Have No Man...

There are times when I feel very alone. And its a very tough road to walk through this labyrinth of life without knowing for sure that you have another solid, breathing, warm-blooded body there to understand and care for you...I thought about this when I read John 5.

I think that this is how the lame man that sat by the pool at Bethesda felt. He had been there for 38 years. There wasn't a single person who saw his state and had compassion enough to help him into the healing waters. The man was lame, so moving wasn't the easy message from brain to limb that we all take for granted. It took time for him. Too much time. So much time, that each year, as he mustered enough strength to make his way to the waters stirred by angels wings, someone else would cut in line. His chance at healing would get stolen. And in front of him all he saw was another year of immobility. Another year of stagnation. Another year with no hope for change and forward movement. People probably laughed at him. They judged him. Every year, for 38 of them, it was the same thing, the same rut, the same hopelessness. Until Jesus came...

There have been times when I felt the same way that the lame man at Bethesda must've felt. Lost in loneliness. No one to talk to for help. And that, dear friends, is a very scary place to be. But Jesus, in His beauty and majesty, was my cure. Just like He was to the man who sat at the pool at Bethesda. Jesus is the answer. We all have some sort of infirmity. Because of the sickness of our sin nature. Jesus is the answer. He has this special way of teaching us that He's the only One that can fill the void and be our medicine. Jesus asked the man, "Wilt thou be made whole?" This question is so heavy and strong. We can get so used to being lame, that we rely on it. We use the idea of being lame as a crutch to uphold our disabled lives. We get used to it and we revel in it. Knowing that we hate the state that we are in but its been so long; how can there be a hope for change? But Jesus says, "Wilt thou be made whole?" Being made whole holds a certain responsibility. When you're whole and healed you must walk uprightly. There is an element of insanity in the idea of a perfectly nimble man living the life of the lame. When you're healed you must stand tall, walk uprightly, live righteously.

The lame man then said, "Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled to put me in the pool..." But Jesus is saying, "Rise up and walk." You don't need any other person. All you need is me. Can't you trust me? Can't you see how much I care about you? Can't you cast these cares on me? I'm willing to take them from you.

Jesus is telling all of us to rise up and walk. Walk with me. Stand tall. Stand with me. Stand on my Word. Trust me.

Are we willing to come up higher with God? To let go of the infirmity that we've lived with so long that we've learned to cling to it? The infirmity of sin is so deceiving. We don't need sin to feel complete. Its very nature will deplete us. But if we can gather enough courage to just trust in Jesus so much so that we can stand on the first leg...and then the second...and then to take one step and then another, then we would find that the richness of walking upright with Jesus is nothing compared to what we thought we'd gain with the help of man. Jesus is saying, I'm all you need. Trust me. Rise, take thy bed, and walk.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

How knowest Thou me?

I want to meet Jesus. Like, really really badly. Face to face.

I was reading John 1 today, and it got me thinking and praying. This chapter describes Jesus' arrival on the hot scene. His introduction -of sorts- into the mainstream society of His day. Jesus comes in contact with many of His closest friends in this chapter. There were two meetings, however, that caught the eye of my heart. The first is when He meets Peter in verse 42.

"And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, He said, "Thou art Simon, the son of Jonah. Thou shalt be called Cephas" (which is by interpretation, "a stone")."

Peter's brother, Andrew had found out that "the Christ", the Messiah, was in town and he ran to find his brother and tell him. When Peter finally came face to face with Jesus, He told him exactly who he was- Simon, son of Jonah. And then Jesus proceeds to tell him who he is in Christ- Cephas, the stone. Jesus -knowing Peter before he was formed in his mother's womb- showed Peter what made him special. And Peter was hooked after this.

The next part that spoke to me was in verses 47-49:

"47Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!"
48Nathanael said unto Him, "How knowest Thou me?" Jesus answered and said unto him, "Before Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee."
49Nathanael answered and said unto Him, "Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the King of Israel."

What astounds me here is that Jesus saw Nathanael and immediately saw the beauty in him. He saw what made Nathanael special. And Nathanael asked a very poignant question then. Nathanael asked, "How do you know me?" And I don't think he meant knowing as on a first name basis. I think that Nathanael wondered how Jesus knew him. Intimately. Knew his inner man. The part of him with no guile. Jesus replied in a manner that makes me think that Jesus saw Nathanael when no one else was looking. When no one else cared...

At Jesus' answer Nathanael couldn't help but to burst forth in praise.

This is why I want to meet Jesus. I want to know me through His eyes. I want to know this man who can see me when no one else does. I want to see the humility in His eyes as He looks into mine. I want to look and see those kind eyes of His tell me how much He loves me. I want to see Him and I want it to change the way I praise Him...