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Archive for December, 2016

member

Here, the Lord elaborates further on the Passover commemoration instructions.  The whole company is just leaving Egypt.  God wasted no time in instructing His people on exactly who may come celebrate and how they are to carry out this grand remembrance of His mercy and greatness toward them.  Moses and Aaron are taught exactly who may eat, who may not, and a few more details on how it may and may not be eaten.  All obligations of the Passover meal point to Jesus Christ and His church.

The underlying theme for the people of God here is preparedness.  No one may come to this meal uncircumcised.  Circumcision was to the people of Israel what regeneration is to Christians.  No one can come to the table celebrating God’s great mercy and miraculous deliverance lest he be first converted and circumcised of heart.

We are shown that anyone may come as long as he is circumcised.  No foreigners may come.  No one who is a hired servant or compensated in any way for his work may come.  But every slave who has been both bought and circumcised may take part.  If there is ownership of a slave – a slave that has been purchased by the people of God – that man is as welcome at the table as a blood-born Jew.

Furthermore, they must always eat the meal inside and all together in one house.  Slaves did not eat one place and masters another.  No.  All together and never outside where foreigners or hired hands would be able to take part.  And the animals’ bones must never be broken.

Lastly, one law applied to all who ate.  The rules applied across the board.  Jews did not have special privileges over sojourners or slaves.  This must have been quite unsettling to Jews because it indicated that their privilege and position with God was based not in their bloodline, but their earnest dedication to God.

The only ones who may come to the Lord’s table are those who have been properly prepared.  Preparedness is for us, conversion.  No one who works for salvation is welcome.  Likewise, no one outside of salvation may eat at Christ’s communion table.  Yet, all are welcome if they have been purchased – bought by the blood of Christ.  Those who are owned by the Father may come freely but those who are trusting in self-sufficient works are wholly unwelcome.  Everyone is to come into one house.  Some are not relegated to a lesser, lower place because the basis of belonging is neither work related nor nepotistic in nature.  The basis of belonging to Christ is, and always has been, our true love and dedication to Him.  No favoritism has ever been condoned in the house of God.  All are bound by one law and no one has privilege or position based on anything other than their love for God and His for them.

What a beautiful picture of how the church ought to look – how God’s people ought to come to feast upon Him.  Prepared.  Grace-dependent.  Unified.  Equally honorable.  Equally honored.  Collectively submitted to a singular law based solely upon grace and our response to it.

Praise God for His mercy!  They did not have to be Jews to celebrate the Passover with equal treatment and honor in the house of God’s people.  Slave, pilgrim – no matter!  It was their house, too!  I do not have to be from a particular family or social class, structure, or group to celebrate His grace and my deliverance with equal treatment and honor in the house of God.  It is my house, too!  If He is my deliverer, I am, and always will be a full-privilege member of his company.  I am included on the merits of one condition: His faithfulness.  Praise God for his mercy toward even me – a weary sojourner who has absolutely nothing but the blood (His – not mine!) to bank on!

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account

Yesterday I embarked on a long overdue and largely avoided obligation.  Several months ago an auditor came to check every jot and tittle of our business’s bookkeeping records for a very specific time period.  This guy was as crazy about receipts as my husband is about engine components.  The devil is in the details, folks.  I have a name for our new disposition as small business owners.  It is called, “I worked painfully hard and tried my honest best to pay what I owed and still ended up with a big black eye, a checkbook desperately in the red, and debts I didn’t expect despite my best efforts.”

That is a taste you just can’t get out of your mouth easily, and, as the year draws to a close, I must somehow find a way to pick up the pieces of a big, broken mess that I was neither expecting nor intending to ever have to deal with.  Let me tell you why.

I am not an accountant.  For the record, I was great at math in school.  I took Algebra I, II, III, Statistics, Geometry, and Trigonometry.  I was in the honors math program from seventh through twelfth grade.   I made A’s, always.  My dad was an engineer so I got it honest.  Nevertheless, when a young friend needed help with her math the other day, I thought I was helping her.  I thought I knew the right answers to her questions.  But we ended up with half wrong.  Half.  The reason is not because I am bad at math.  The reason is because I did not know the formulas.  I did not know the rules by which she was confined to solve the problems.  I was using my own.  I looked them up on the internet and thought I had found what I needed.  The information I had was only partial.  There were nuances and details (there’s that devil again) that I did not know anything about.  Fifty percent is failing.  A checkbook in the red is failing.

So, after spending two hours I did not really have to spare in the first place with my friend’s homework, I failed her.  After spending countless hours I did not really have to spare in the first place on bookkeeping, I failed him.  There were laws and rules that I knew nothing about when I took on this “job” as a 22 year old dental hygienist 15 years ago.

15 years is a long time to ignore important details.  15 years is a long time to just get by on basics.  How could I be so stupid?  Why did this not matter more to me?  Hindsight is always 20/20.  With my friend, I just needed her book in front of me.  With the business, I am pretty sure I need a lifelong tutor at this point and a book to boot.  No one ever showed me anything.  No one ever told me the rules.  But we all know that under the law, ignorance is no excuse.  My own ignorance has left me in a place where details feel a whole lot like devils.

The truth is, life is outrageously busy.  Priorities pile up like laundry in a family of seven.  Here’s one more thing you must make your #1 focus, Lori.  OK, Lord, then help me.  Because I already have 18 #1 priorities.  Maybe I am finally where the Lord wants me: recognizing my all consuming, desperate need for Him in all things.

Yesterday I sought to begin to reconcile the differences in my books.  The long and painfully dreaded process began with an updated program.  My Quickbooks software was dated 2002.  After an hour and a half on the phone with a man located in the Philippines, I had a brand new reason to do better this year.  I am still altogether awestruck by the fact that a man located on the other side of globe was remotely controlling my computer from his very own desk.  He told me it was midnight there.  I told him that anytime I am bookkeeping it feels a lot like midnight.

Anyway, I got off to a good start and then I realized that there were still entries from as far back as 2001 that needed deleted.  Every time I went to reconcile a new statement, I would have to scroll through all those old bits of nonsense. With the new program, I thought, this will be easy and only take a few minutes.  I will just delete the unreconciled entries and have one less weight on my shoulders.

Wrong.

I began OK but what I did accidentally proved, once again, disastrous.  I thought the computer was automatically moving down the row that needed deleted.  What it was actually doing was moving down by date – not only the unreconciled checks, but also the reconciled entries as well.  I ended up accidentally deleting about 20 cleared checks from 2001 – checks I have zero ability to produce a hard copy of or ever find anywhere ever again.

I have no idea how to retrieve them or even if I can.  Wonderful.  Even more collateral damage.  When I went to reconcile the next statement, there appeared a 27,000 dollar discrepancy.  Usually, it is about 27 cents.  I have no idea how to go back to that statement and fix it.  I ended up redoing the two hours of work I had just done and still haven’t fixed it in the least.

Now.  Are you feeling me?  When I say I sat and cried over these honest but disastrously failed attempts to keep track of all that is related to this business and it’s books, I am telling you despair is not nearly a descriptive enough word.  I am not an accountant.  This is hard.  I do not know the rules.  I do not know the program.  I do not know who can help me.  I do not know much at all.  But I cannot just quit.  I cannot give up because this is not a job.  It is a family business because of which my children eat.  I have to figure it out.  I have to find the right help.  I need instructed.  I need taught.  I need help and I must find a way to make time to master this business – be it bad debts or better reconciliation, I have to deal with every dot and detail until my books are nothing less than beautiful.  There are amends to be made and it will not be completed in the next few days I have off from home schooling as I had hoped.  This is a time consuming project that is going to take some real dedication.  But they will be made and I will see this project through to the very end.  Hard, hard lesson learned.

We are on the precipice of a brand new year.  Take it from one who is learning the hard way – reconcile your bad debts.  Make amends – even if they are many more than you had ever anticipated.  Pay attention to the details because, believe me, they matter tremendously.  Make every transaction a priority.  Never let old entries go undealt with.  Do not give up.  Don’t cry.  Call on the man who can remote access your heart and theirs and let him do the work for you. You will be asked to give an account.  You will, most definitely, need your book – the Bible.

Happy New Year.

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exodus

Finally!  The moment we have all been waiting for!  The Exodus!  For over four hundred years, God’s people had been living in Egypt.  Now, after ten devastating plagues dealt by the very hand of God, Pharaoh finally lets them go.

God’s people did not wait for him to change his mind.  The text says they took their dough before it was leavened and left Egypt.  There is something to be gleaned from the swift action of God’s people when finally freed.  When God opens a door or presents the opportunity we have been praying for, he expects us to walk through it with promptness and purpose.  Lackadaisical laziness in the face of God’s favor is an affront to his great grace and generosity.  What kind of child petitions day and night only to sleep when his requests are honored?  Only an ungrateful one.  Convenience carries no weight in the instances of God’s divine appointments.

Not only they, but a “mixed multitude” came along with them.  These could have been some Egyptians who were simply curious as to where they were going or even fearful of more plagues, but as Matthew Henry notes, “There were always those among the Israelites that were not Israelites, and there are still hypocrites in the church, who make a great deal of mischief, but will be shaken off at last.”   

And the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they plundered the Egyptians. ~Exodus 12:36

Incidentally, though not accidentally, God’s people ended up with all of Egypt’s loot, too!  Silver, gold, and clothing were all given to them with open hands.  Israel did not have to steal from their enemies.  Their enemies willingly gave it all to them.  Talk about an act of God!  The truth is that we do not have to seek to destroy others who do evil to us, either.  Sooner or later they will destroy themselves.  The reasons are simple: sin makes people stupid while God’s favor continually enriches.

The Israelites left in such a hurry that they did not even have time to let their bread rise!  Surely their unleavened cakes were less tasty than they would have been if there had been time for leaven, but grateful captives who have been set free eat their daily bread with great thanksgiving no matter how distasteful it is.  Likewise, a sinner saved is an ever thank-filled saint no matter what his physical portion or lack thereof.

Finally, the text refers to this time of departure as, “a night of watching.”  God watched so carefully over them that they were to ever remember to keep watch for him and remember how their God miraculously delivered them – throughout all generations.

God’s people are so often enslaved and oppressed by the evil in this world.  We must always keep watch for our Deliverer.  When God’s people are delivered from evil, we must run as far and as fast from it as we possibly can.  Anything less is an affront to Our Father’s great grace and mercy.  With God’s favor, we will plunder our enemies, not by attacking them, rather, merely by our obedience and closeness to Him.  He will destroy our enemies as we focus fully upon him.  No matter how little or less our daily bread is, it will be more than enough if we be free from the the hard and hateful taskmaster of sin.

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mercy

Consider a man with great religious knowledge.  Consider a man who is influential, intelligent, and intimidating.  Imagine he has twenty close friends exactly like him.  Now imagine that man coming to your house and threatening you and your three close friends.  Imagine him watching as his buddies kill your buddies and put them in prison…because he can and because he sincerely thinks he is doing the right thing.

Meet Saul of Tarsus, the Bible’s favorite miracle.

“But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him…Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.” Acts 9:1-3, 8-9

When the Lord came to Saul, he went blind.  I think I know why.

Saul was a guy who saw everything.  This is a very detail-oriented guy.  Think boss, leader, foreman.  Paul saw everything everyone did and did not do.  All. The. Time. He knew everyone.  He thought he knew everything, and, truth be told, he did know a lot about that which he was talking.  He had credentials, experience, and position to prove it.  So, needless to say, people turned into cockroaches when the lights come on when Saul stomped into their town.  No one wanted to be the target he chose.  Saul was feared because he had a keen eye to see anything and everything everyone did, as he saw it, wrong.

Furthermore, he had friends – a group of people who did the same, encouraged, and approved of him doing so.  The Pharisees saw everything, knew everyone, and, in their extreme self-righteousness, felt genuinely justified in every critical assessment they made about others.  They made their own laws.  They obeyed their own laws.  You better obey their laws, too…or else.

Interestingly, God chose to make Saul blind when he saved him.  Such a man would have more trouble than most with blindness. When you see everything all your life and feel it is your responsibility to say exactly what you see, blindness is death.  Daily death, perhaps?

…Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing…

Saul saw nothing.  Oh, but in that nothing was something very important.  For the first time in Saul’s self-governed life, he saw himself.  When Saul could see nothing, he began to see everything.  When he could not see anyone else or their issues, his own issue became crystal clear to him.  A wise man once said we ought to pray that, “our sin becomes the only thing we see.”  When Saul saw the heavenly light, he went blind, but when Saul went blind, he saw the heavenly light.  The light of Christ showed him his sin and he had but one need: mercy.

Once upon a time, another light shone from heaven.

 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. ~Luke 2:8-11

In our first instance, God brought man’s sin to light.  In the second, God brought his unmitigated mercy to all men.  Thank God!

The Lord was extraordinarily merciful to Saul.  He changed him into, quite possibly, the most influential man in the Bible, save Jesus.  The means by which that happened was quite interesting, too.  He called upon a specific Christian named Ananias and told him to go to blind Saul and lay hands and pray over him.  Do you know what Ananias said?

No way, God.  Don’t you know who he is?? He is a monster.  He will kill me.  He even has the authority to kill me.  Really?

I chose him, Ananias.  Go.

Ananias went and prayed for Saul.  The Lord restored his sight.  Next, the disciples hung out with him.  He began to preach.  The Christians could not believe it and the Jews were confused.  The Jews sought to kill him and the Christians were terrified of him.  God knew it would take another miracle to change Saul’s bad reputation into Paul’s new identity in the eyes of everyone else.

The miracle God chose to use to accomplish Saul’s conversion was a heavenly light and an audible voice heard only by Saul.  The miracle God chose to establish Saul’s new identity and character was an earthly man’s (Ananias) laying on of hands and praying and another earthly man’s (Barnabas) friendship and reference.

To that end Paul spends the rest of his life in great effort and defense of the gospel.  No longer preoccupied with taking others to task, Paul had a new task: taking his own sin to task and sharing his own struggles as a springboard for the gospel message.  Saul’s shouting had turned into a song about his own sin and Christ’s great mercy toward him.  That song steered the rest of his life and God saved (and continues to save!) more men than stars in the sky though Paul’s salvation and subsequent suffering.

His song is my song, everyday forever. I heard it yesterday upon entering the Doctor’s office.  Kyrie eleison. Lord, have mercy.

Kyrie eleison – a short, repeated invocation used in many Christian litergies, especially at the beginning of the Eucharist or as a response in a litany.  Literally, “Lord, have mercy.” Let it not be Greek to me any longer. 

 Kyrie eleison
Kyrie eleison
Kyrie

The wind blows hard against this mountain side
Across the sea into my soul
It reaches into where I cannot hide
Setting my feet upon the road

My heart is old, it holds my memories
My body burns a gemlike flame
Somewhere between the soul and soft machine
Is where I find myself again

Kyrie eleison, down the road that I must travel
Kyrie eleison, through the darkness of the night
Kyrie eleison, where I’m going, will you follow?
Kyrie eleison, on a highway in the light

When I was young I thought of growing old
Of what my life would mean to me
Would I have followed down my chosen road
Or only wished what I could be

Kyrie eleison, down the road that I must travel
Kyrie eleison, through the darkness of the night
Kyrie eleison, where I’m going, will you follow?
Kyrie eleison, on a highway in the light

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angelofdeath

Here it is.  In Exodus 12, we find the wages of sin.  Pharaoh had enslaved God’s people.  He had held them captive and oppressed them for a great period of time.  Their babies, save Moses, had been slaughtered, their lives had been greatly burdened, and their God had been mocked.

God, in his mercy, had not carried out swift judgement.  Instead, he send his prophets.  They dealt reasonably with Pharaoh.  God gave many warnings, signs, and wonders.  Pharaoh refused to listen.  Time after time, Pharaoh hardened his heart.

Finally, here in Exodus 12, God touches what is most dear to Pharaoh.  God smites his firstborn child.  Not only his, but all of Egypt’s firstborn children.

And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians. And there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where someone was not dead. ~Exodus 12:30

There is not a person our sin does not affect.  When an influential person sins, the results are widespread and catastrophic.  Egypt was guilty of killing the Hebrews’ children.  Now, God’s perfect justice had taken theirs.

Like Pharaoh, when God has been dealing with us for a long time over a specific issue and we have not listened, he brings judgment to the place where we feel it most deeply.  Often, the judgement reveals not only our sin, but our idols.  It reveals our hardened refusal to deal with the very thing God wants to deal with.  For Pharaoh, his child was not just his child.  Pharaoh’s firstborn was Pharaoh’s future.  This was his heir; his successor; his life after death.  All of Pharaoh’s power would be gone once death came so his child was his immortality; his continuation; his very salvation.

Don’t touch my child, God.  My child is mine.  I will protect this part of myself and excuse my sin no matter how many times you try to deal with it.  Just don’t touch me there.  This part of my life if off limits, God.  Leave it alone.

We all have “children” in our lives.  These are our idols.  They are those things we try to make untouchable when God reaches for them.  Don’t touch my child, God.  Don’t touch my marriage.  Don’t touch my health.  Don’t touch my finances.  Don’t touch my family.  Don’t touch my job.  Don’t touch my recreation.  Don’t touch my relationships.  Don’t touch my ministry.  Don’t touch my plans.  Don’t touch my pain.  Don’t touch my happiness.  Don’t touch my fear.  Don’t touch me.  Just don’t touch me, God.  Leave me and my precious child the hell alone.

Pharaoh lost his child as a result of stubborn rebellion.  All those who followed him lost their children, too.  Matthew Henry notes that “…the Egyptians could have no help, no comfort, from their neighbors, all being involved in the same calamity.”

 Then he summoned Moses and Aaron by night and said, “Up, go out from among my people, both you and the people of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as you have said. 32 Take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone, and bless me also!” ~Exodus 12:31-32

Judgement for one meant freedom for another.  God’s heavy hand upon this ruler humbled him to the place where he finally submitted to let God’s people go.  He even went so far as to ask them to bless him!  God’s people would no longer be enslaved and oppressed by the control and corruption of an unconcerned master.  God’s people were finally free.

This final judgement teaches us just how obstinate we humans are.  Look at what it takes to humble us!  Nothing short of death.  Consider the depths of our sin and the lengths God is willing to go to in order to set us free!  Where there is judgement, there is often hope; there is freedom; there is redemption if we just surrender – idols and all – and God passes over us in extraordinary mercy.

So, Lord, please.  I don’t want my child to die but I don’t want my child to be my idol either.  Touch my child and make me willing to submit her to you.  Touch my marriage.  Touch my health.  Touch my finances.  Touch my family.  Touch my job.  Touch my recreation.  Touch my relationships.  Touch my ministry.  Touch my plans.  Touch my pain.  Touch my happiness.  Touch my fear.  Touch me and make me willing to submit everything to your good and perfect will.  Whatever you do, do not leave me alone with my idols.  I am listening.  Help me surrender all to you.

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blood

The final plague is coming.  Because it was so severe, the Lord gives very detailed instructions about how his people are to prepare.  While Pharaoh pridefully ignores warning after fearful warning; judgement after painful judgement, God’s people have a beautiful opportunity to watch as God hides them under his grace.  They are afforded the opportunity to obey their way right through the hell that was still to come.

God’s righteous wrath and judgement were coming soon with full-on force and finality for his enemies.  All the firstborn children were about to be put to death by the mighty hand of God.  But God makes careful, tedious, tender-hearted provision for his own.  If they will only listen to his prophets, Moses and Aaron, Israel will be saved.  Their babies spared from certain, imminent death.

I can hear the voice of a righteously indignant, ready to pour out his just wrath on the willful rebellion of those he has been so gracious to warn and warn and warn and warn turn from wrath right into whisper.  Daddy is here, kids.  Do not worry.  I am about to bring painful, difficult, just judgement to your enemies.  I am here for you, though.  I have not forsaken you.  Now listen very carefully.  I am going to spare you and all your children when the angel of death comes.  Here is what you must do…(See Exodus 12:1-20)

God gives Moses and his speaker, Aaron, extremely detailed instructions for what Jews – to this day –  celebrate as Passover.  On the 10th day of a whole new year that God was now establishing, they were to take a male, year old lamb without blemish and keep it until the 14th day.  Matthew Henry notes, “It is good to begin the day, and begin the year, and especially to begin our lives, with God.”  They were to kill the lamb at twilight, put the blood over their door post, roast and eat the meat with bitter herbs and unleavened bread, and leave none leftover.  Even the way they had to eat it was strictly specified.  They must have their belt fastened, their sandals on, their staff in hand, and eat in haste.

All of these requirements of obedience pointed to the coming Messiah.  God wasn’t just giving his beloved busy work or exercising some kind of regulatory system wherein they were slaves to unimportant details.  No.  Every single detail was severely important.  God was instructing and commanding them in order to make their very lives and their children’s lives an extraordinary testimony to his great faithfulness.  He was proving the blessed assurance of reward in obedience and honoring him.  With these specifications and instructions, God Our Father was telling our ancestors this: If you do these things exactly as I command, I will save you and yours.  I will pass over you with my righteous judgement.  No plague will touch you when my wrath is poured out on sin and rebellion.  You are not sinless.  You deserve judgement just as much as the Egyptians.  But you are mine and I love you so do not worry.  Just obey.  Obey very carefully.  I will save you.  Let me.

Consider the context of these people.  They had been enslaved for several hundred years.  They were still getting up every day enslaved.  They were going to bed every night enslaved. But they have been watching God show up.  They have been hearing God’s prophets and seeing judgement fall all around them on their enemies time after time.  God is sparing them in all the fury he has rightly brought thus far.  Now, he is giving them all these detailed instructions.  He is speaking in detail about their future.  God is speaking in terms of forever – as in every generation to follow them from now until…forever.  He is talking about future feasts and remembering this passing over of great mercy and it has not even happened yet.  They were not even free yet!  God’s people were still in bondage.  They were not out of Egypt.  God is talking to them about what their obedience to his strict details means for them in terms of how every single instruction points to their freedom, their family, and their coming Messiah.  Even the future feast he tells them they and all their future generations will keep conveys unmistakable hope.  No more leaven in the bread.  All yeast will be removed from your households.  All the corruption will finally be put to death and removed from among you.

What grace!  What absolute incredible mercy!  When the Lord begins to school us in great detail, there is an overwhelming sense of real hope.

Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb. 22 Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. 23 For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. 24 You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever…Then the people of Israel went and did so; as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did. ~Exodus 12:20-24,28

After God has greatly instructed us, there is but one thing left to do.  For our good and for his glory, we must humble ourselves and carefully obey all that he has commanded in the ways in which he has instructed.

Finally, their enemies fall as they rise up and move to a place they have never known.  That place is true freedom.  Buckle your seat belts kids, this is going to be amazing!

Amazing it was. We will wait on those details a few more days.  For right now, let’s consider what we must do to walk in obedience to God.  Let’s consider the very specific, exact ways in which God has instructed us to carry out his commands as we are graciously spared his just judgement.  God has specific methods we must follow if we are going to win this battle we call life.  We cannot just do whatever we want however we want to – even if we truly believe we are doing right things.   We cannot forget that we do have a dad.  We are not fatherless.  Fathers expect to be respected and obeyed.  When we do that, we will be both graciously spared of punishment and wrath as well as set completely free forever of the bondage of our greatest, most powerful enemies.  Amen.

“If the blood of Christ be sprinkled upon our consciences, it will be our protection from the wrath of God, the curse of the law, and the damnation of hell.”  ~Matthew Henry

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beauty

He calls me on his birthday.  Seventy-one today.  A true father to the fatherless, he cares to listen.  He asks my condition.  He encourages, advises, and patiently instructs.  Here is a man who loves unconditionally.  I know,  not because he says it; I know because he does it.

If only we knew how much we are loved.  If only we loved like Dennis.  What grace!

Flooding in comes all the grand examples of the providence of God.  The red birds’ appearing.  The chance meeting with Daddy’s best friend.  The parable of daily bread read to a dying woman after holding out my empty hand repeating softly, “I trust you, Lord.”  The tender, unmistakable instructions to eat; to rest.  The dinner date planned months prior.  The revelatory dream.  The friend who just happened to be there.  The song that prepared.  The woman with the expensive perfume.  The beatitudes.  The movie.

Yes, the movie.  Collateral Beauty.  Pain is not collateral damage.  Pain is collateral beauty.  If we hurt, we know we love.  We have love.  We share love.  We do love.  Even the deepest pain reflects our grandiose blessedness.

If only we knew how much we are loved.  If only we loved like Dennis; like God.  His love is everywhere; in everything; always.  Even all that is wrong in the world proves that true love is real, that injustice is wrong, that righteousness is worth striving for, and that pain has great and beautiful purpose.

When a man cannot so much as speak for how much he hurts; how much he loves, therein is the power of God.  Pain is not collateral damage.  Pain is collateral beauty.  My Lord, I trust you.  My God, how great Thou art!

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