God with us

16 June, 2010

I’m reading through Ezekiel and am up to chapter 34. You know, the one where God tells off the shepherds off Israel for looking out for themselves and then tells off the flock for doing the same.

Anyhoo, His remedy to this is the promise that one day, He himself will shepherd his people. He will search them out, He will establish them and He will personally provide for them. How? Via his servant David. Jesus himself takes up this theme when he calls himself The Good Shepherd (Jn 10).

Now, I’ve read this passage many times. But today, here’s what took hold of my heart and made me smile…

Ez 34:24
“And I the LORD, will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I the Lord have spoken.”

A prince among them. With us. As one of us. Now that, right there, the Lovely Word, is beauty.

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lovely

27 September, 2009

From forever the Word existed
And the Word was The God
And God was the Word
He was from forever in relationship/communion with The God

The Word
God
Life
Light
Flesh/Man
Giver of Grace
Gives of Truth
Revealer of God

Lovely One.


christmas

18 December, 2008

I’ve just finished reading the Gospels again and I’ve been thinking about what God did in the incarnation…

hmn… lost my train of thought there for a moment, there’s a Colin Firth movie on telly (now there’s a fine specimen of humanity that needs saving)… *cough*

Right, the incarnation, Christmas…. God becoming man.

It’s struck me over again just what an amazing thing God did in “becoming flesh” and living as one of us. But more than that, he came as a friend of man, not an angry Lord. He drew people to him. They weren’t terrified of him like the Israelites back with the whole burning mountain thing where they backed away and told ol’ Moses to go talk to him for them.

Of course for the most part his friends didn’t really know who he was, I mean, they suspected he was the Messiah, but there was no expectation that the Messiah would be God himself, but rather a man maybe like Moses or David, who acted with God’s favour upon them.

There were moments when some did catch on to his true identity, like Peter, in the boat after the “miraculous catch”, with his declaration of “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”, but then Jesus’ response was “Don’t be afraid”…. lovely.

There was nothing for Pete to fear.

God had become man for a reason, to draw man back into loving relationship with his Creator.

Jesus presented himself as the most lovely person. He cared deeply about the people around him. He understood the human condition. He looked out for the broken and beaten and those who had been ostracised by society. He wept with his friends and he didn’t harbour grudges when they let him down.

And this Jesus, this man, “is the image of the invisible God”.

Just as there was nothing for Pete to fear from Jesus, there is absolutely nothing for us to fear from our God. Nothing.

Jesus showed us that. He told us that if there was something worth fearing, it would be God, but God loves us so completely that there’s absolutely no reason to fear even Him!!

Anyhoo, I guess where this has taken me once again is to the place where I’m reminded that the Creator of all things calls me his friend, and went to amazing lengths to prove it!


distinctive?

13 October, 2008

Although it’s been a while since I’ve regularly blogged, I have been posting elsewhere.  So here’s something I wrote not so long ago on what I believe makes followers of Jesus distinctive…

What makes us distinctive?

I have friends who tell me it’s the fact that we’ve acknowledged what Jesus did on the cross so we’re saved and we live our lives accordingly.

But, I watch them, and they’re driven by much of the same compulsive attitudes (success, power, authority, popularity, status) that the rest of the world is. The biggest difference is they’ve channelled those attitudes, desires, whatever into what has become socially acceptable within Christian culture.

Same same… but different.

In this case, the only distinctive thing is the culture in which it’s all lived out. It’s like they’ve justified them all by slapping the word “calling” on them and giving them the appearance of Godliness.

Sure they’re different, they don’t smoke, they don’t swear, they don’t sleep around, they don’t cheat on their partners, and they frown upon those that do. Mind, I know many unsaved people who don’t do any of these things either. But then my unsaved friends don’t read bibles, and turn up to church on Sundays and don’t tithe, maybe that’s it?

I know many unsaved that pray… so that can’t be it, although they wouldn’t put “in the name of Jesus” on the end. 

But, isn’t that still just behaviour modification or even ‘sin management’ (as Dallas Willard so eloquently puts it)? 

Isn’t the thing that actually makes us distinctive not that we talk and walk with people just like us, and exert self-control in some areas of our lives, or even that our lives have been modified so that we fit within acceptable standards of behaviour with the Christian culture, but rather that we’re becoming more and more aware of how much we’re loved by our Creator and that that love is transforming us on the inside into his image. So that, all that other stuff no longer matters to us? 

We don’t need power, control, authority over others, success etc to make us feel ok or even acceptable to those around us. We no longer need to perform for the masses, conform to their expectations or even place expectations of behavioural standards on others. I mean, isn’t that what Jesus came to set us free from? Not only sin and it’s grasp on our lives, but along with that (for surely it’s all connected?), free to live unencumbered by all the stress of conformity to those around us and their expectations? Religious or otherwise?

Free to be the beloved of God.
Free to live for others instead of self.
Free to promote others ahead of ourselves.
Free to allow them to ruin our reputations before men.
Free to go where religion can’t take us, to befriend the drug addict, 
the homeless, 
the poor, 
the widow, 
the wretched, 
the neglected, 
the smelly, 
the stinky, 
the dirty, 
the naked, 
the homosexual, 
the blasphemer, 
the sex addict, 
the foul mouthed youth, 
the drunkard, 
the single parent, 
the angry teenager, 
the ugly, 
the despicable, 
the desperate,
the lonely, 
the murderer, 
the enemy of our nation, 
and those that act in all the other ways we find offensive, because, really, we’ve encountered the love and forgiveness of Jesus and we get that just like us, these are just hurting, broken people, responding to the fact that they ‘feel’ unloved and unimportant.

But we know that’s not true. They are loved more deeply and more honestly then anything they can imagine, and what really matters is that the people around us begin to get how loved they are by their heavenly Father. That they (and we?) no longer have to lash out at others to protect or exalt themsevles. They are loved due to the mere fact that they ‘are’ the beloved of God, His creation, His kids and Jesus died for them as much as he died for us… He loves them, and if we don’t, then John tells us we don’t know God.

And I believe our distinctiveness is found in the fact that we wont isolate or reject the ‘unlovely’, we wont shun those who disagree with us, we wont judge the broken, because we know that they already feel wretched and dirty, it’s grace they don’t understand, and we have that by the bucket-load!!! We get ‘there but for the grace of God go I’ because He has met us in the midst of our junk, and poured His love into our hearts.

That’s what markes a believer as distinctive to me. Not just the ‘card carrying christians’ who show up every time the church doors are open and have exchanged ambition in the ‘world’ for ambition in the church, because ‘that’s what you’re supposed to do’… but those who are the people of God because the Spirit of Jesus lives in them.

I reckon that is our distinctiveness, and no amount of separateness “from the world” is ever going to work that in us. The only thing that will is if we get what God did in the incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord and allow that to transform us into his image. 

From the inside out… not the other way around.


the more excellent Way

7 March, 2007

So much for being able to blog more often now that I have the notebook. The intention was there, but the reality was that this week was just totally crazy busy.

Having said that though, here are some things that Dad’s been re-affirming of late…

  • He’s more interested in the state of my heart and in me being His friend than me being His servant.
  • He wants me to live in such a wag that the Gospel is fully accessible to any and all that i come into contact with on a daily basis.
  • His Kingdom is from everlasting to everlasting.
  • He loves the whole Church.
  • Being ‘right’ wont achieve a thing if I don’t live it.
  • I can only trust Him and others as much as I believe they love me.
  • To love someone means to want the best for them.
  • He loves me.
  • He loves everyone else just as much.
  • Nip ‘unforgiveness’ in the bud before it turns to contempt.
  • If I can’t forgive someone, it’s my issue, not there’s.
  • What we call ‘love’ very often isn’t.
  • What we call friendship is very often just a ‘mutual accommodation of self need’ (Dave Coleman)
  • Sundays are NOT the game, they’re just the training sessions.
  • He loves everybody, and asks me to do likewise.
  • When i don’t treat someone in a loving manner, it’s most likely because there’s a part of God’s character that I still need to get a handle on (ie, it’s about me, not them).
  • Acting ‘lovingly’ toward someone is still just an act – they will see through it!
  • Love is affectionate.
  • Jesus gave ‘the man on the street’ authority to carry on His work – NEVER prevent that, never take it off them, ALWAYS encourage them! There is no exclusive ‘ministers’ club in His Kingdom.
  • Saying ‘sorry’ doesn’t diminish you in the least – unless you’re worried about your ‘reputation’ – and He’s not.
  • Give.
  • Rest.
  • Give some more.
  • Practice this loving thing – it’s exhilarating!!

  • finding grace

    24 January, 2007

    This is… wonderful.  Perfect even.

     

    “Sometimes in an effort to remind people of the cost of the cross, we withhold grace until we’re sure they understand their sin. But it’s in giving of our grace, that we remind people that they need to go to Jesus to find their own.”


    remembrance & hope

    23 December, 2006

    Yesterday morning I finished reading Deuteronomy. It’s actually one of my favourites of the Books of Moses. I love the way it recounts all that God has done for the Israelites. From the call of Abraham and God entering into covenant relationship with him, to the 70 Syrians going into Egypt, their 400 years of servitude, God hearing their cry and raising up Moses to lead them out, then His leading them through the wilderness, the giving of His statutes and laws, their rebellion, His provision and protection, and then finally looking forward to them entering the promised land.

    It’s all about reminding the Israelites of everything God has done for them in the past, so that they will rely and stay true to him in the future. They can place all their hope in Him. He has loved them, He does love them, He will love them. They are His, called to be exclusively about His business – Holy.

    He even tells them, in a song, about their future rebellion, He sets before them what appears to be the entire future of the Israelites and their interaction with God and others. Yet, in the end, they can hope in Him being true to His promise of being their God.

    Lovely.

    Remember & Hope.

    I suspect there’s something in there for us all.

    Ok, off to brekky to spend time with Joshua…