Thursday, June 30, 2011

Nothing From Outside

I'm going to write about something that may offend churched sensibilities. I might even lose my standing as a Christian mom. Consider yourself warned.

Tonight my son confided something that had been puzzling him for some time. He said that about a  year ago he had been trying to tell two friends at church about the movie Napoleon Dynamite, which he is very amused by. One of the boys asked him, "Does he say s-h-i-t?"
Isaiah said, "No. What is shit?"
At this point in his story, I asked him, "Do you know what that means? Have you ever heard that word before?"
"No." He looked confused.
"The reason you haven't heard that word is because it's a word that we don't use. Most people consider it to be a bad word, and it means 'poop'. So what did they say when you asked that?"
"They didn't tell me what it meant, but one of them went to the teacher and told her, 'Isaiah said "shit".'"
"So what did the teacher do? Did you get in trouble?"
"She said, 'Don't say that!' But I said, 'I don't know what it is.'"
"Isaiah, that is a perfect case of man looking on the outward appearance, and God looking on the heart. Obviously your heart has to be dirty for a dirty word to mean anything, huh?"
He nodded and said, "It made me kind of mad that they told me that word, and I didn't even know that word, and then they..."
"They set a trap for you, didn't they?"
"Yes. And tried to get me in trouble. And I was afraid to ask you what it meant, because I thought you would get mad that someone told me that."
"Who do you think had the dirty heart: the one who tried to get you to say the word, or you for saying the word when you didn't know it?"
"They did. They wanted to talk about it."
"Son, in this world, there will be all kinds of people who try to introduce you to dirty things you don't know anything about. It's gross, and it's wrong, but it's a fact here. You have to learn to tell the difference between those things, and to know what things you should have nothing to do with. And you didn't sin because someone told you that word."

"And calling near all the crowd, He said to them, 
'Listen to Me, every one of you, and understand.
There is nothing from outside a man which entering into him can defile him. 

But the things which come out of him, those are the ones that defile the man.'"
Mark 7:14,15

Monday, June 27, 2011

Not One

This afternoon, my children and I heard a thump on the window and found outside a beautiful gray bird in its last minute or two of life. I picked it up, hoping it was just stunned, and we spoke softly to it, stroking its breast and admiring its beauty. It's been over an hour, and it has grown stiller. I think its neck is broken, and sadly, it won't be flying off again. It lies next to me on a towel in a decorative bird cage as I write this. So seemingly pointless. We weren't sure what it was, so we examined its markings and looked it up. I think it's a tufted titmouse.

I find myself thinking of what Jesus said to His friends:

"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul;
rather be afraid of God, who can destroy both body and soul in hell.
For only a penny you can buy two sparrows,
yet not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father's consent.
As for you, even the hairs of your head have all been counted.
So do not be afraid; you are worth much more than many sparrows!"
~Matthew 10:28-31

My Father knows the loss of this little bird who enriches no one's life. Who makes no one grieve but us, and only because we knew of it. If he had fallen in the woods, we would not care. Every delicate feather and subtle marking is known by Him, although we have to examine them to recognize his species. And He says not to be afraid -- He's counted our hairs.

"Precious in the sight of Jehovah is the death of his saints."
~Psalm 116:15

Thursday, June 23, 2011

By Trusting

"Not by measuring the waves can you prevail;
not by gauging the wind will you grow strong;
to scan the danger may be to fall before it;
to pause at the difficulties, is to have them break above your head.
Lift up your eyes unto the hills, and go forward --
there is no other way.

'Dost thou fear to launch away?
Faith lets go to swim!
Never will He let thee go;
'Tis by trusting thou shalt know
Fellowship with Him.'"

~From Streams in the Desert, June 23

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Who Created You

"I am the LORD who created you;
from the time you were born, I have helped you.
Do not be afraid; you are my servant, my chosen people whom I love.
I will give water to the thirsty land
and make streams flow on the dry ground.
I will pour out my spirit on your children
and my blessing on your descendants.
They will thrive like well-watered grass,
 like willows by streams of running water.
One by one, people will say, 'I am the LORD's.'
They will come to join the people of Israel.
They each will mark the name of the LORD on their arms
and call themselves one of God's people."
~Isaiah 44:2-5

My baby brother is a daddy. 
My nephew is the first of his generation.
Not the first grandchild for my parents, but the first to have my father's name.
The name carries on.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Nothing To Commit

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and our Lord Jesus Christ,
who gave Himself for our sins,
that He might deliver us from this present evil age...
I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him...
The gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.

I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries...
being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions...
But when it pleased God... who called me through His grace,
to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles...
they glorified God in me."

~excerpts from Galatians 1

"To attempt to change the gospel has the effect of making it the very opposite of what it really is."

"The gospel shuts out all works."

"The other day a man said to me, 'I want to become a Christian.
I am going to try to be a little better, and if I improve, I am going to become a Christian.'
"I said to him, 'If you improve, you will never become a Christian.  
The only class that God is saving is the ungodly.
The Lord Jesus said He didn't come to call the righteous; He came to call sinners.
There is none righteous, no, not one.
The righteousness of man is as filthy rags in God's sight.
Law condemns us, and it must make us speechless before grace can save us.'"

"The gospel of grace puts us in the dust and makes us beggars before God."

"We have nothing to commit to Him...
You have nothing to commit to Him, my friend.
He wants to commit something to you.
He is the One who died, and He is on the giving end."

~excerpts from Thru The Bible With J. Vernon McGee, on Galatians 1

What stood out to me in pondering Galatians 1 this morning was Himself.  
He is the gospel.  
He is the good news.  
He is the message.  
He is the deliverance.
And He is the One we turn from when we turn from the gospel.

The good news is the work of Christ accomplished for us.
Complete in Him.
Not our advancement beyond our contemporaries in zealousness,
but the revealing of His Son in us through His grace by His will
that we might preach HIM,
that God would be glorified in us.
God is not glorified in our righteousness.
He is glorified in the work of Christ --
the righteousness of Christ.
The deliverance of Christ.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

All We Have

My dear friend Conor was speaking at the church I was at today.
He talked about Mark 8:31-35 where Jesus tells His disciples He must suffer,
and be rejected,
and be killed
and rise again after 3 days.
And Peter pulls Him aside to rebuke Him.
You know what Jesus said to him:
"Get behind me, Satan."

My friend focused on Peter's mind being influenced by the things of man,
and not the things of God.
He pointed out that it was the GOSPEL -- the work of Christ on our behalf --
that Peter was trying to correct.
He was speaking the words of Satan when he corrected Jesus.
"Satan is not opposed to going to church, to praying idle prayers.
He's opposed to the gospel."
The work of Christ is central.
"The gospel is all we have! Jesus is all we have!"

I had never thought of it before.
(Peter being opposed to the gospel.)
In a sense it comforts me to see Peter, who was opposed to the gospel,
become one of the foremost instruments of promoting the gospel --
although he had to be corrected again by Paul on the very subject of legalism.

"I want God to take this blurry watercolor of the cross and show it to me in HD," Conor said.

Legalism sucks all the life out of Christianity.
It's like posting the rules of my marriage on the wall:
Eight kisses every day are required, and they must be passionate.
You must bear eight children in order to be considered remotely fruitful.
All meals must be gourmet, and the house spotless at all times.
Two hours of one-on-one conversation must take place every day at the same time.
And sex is scheduled four days a week.