Quotables

From my morning reading…because they were just too good not to share.

From Mark 1:41

“Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.”

  • Filled with compassion–Where others have contempt, Jesus is full of compassion.  Am I?
  • Jesus reached out–His compassion compelled an action.  True compassion always does.
  • Touched the man–What must it have been like for the man with leprosy to be touched after so long?  By Jesus, no less.
  • The man begged on his knees for Jesus to do what no one else could do.  What am I begging the Lord to do; believing if He doesn’t do it, it won’t be done?

From Servants of the Servant, by Don N. Howell, Jr.

  • “Joseph’s immaturity, Jacob’s partiality, and the brothers’ hostility became the instruments in God’s hand to orchestrate his redemptive purposes.”  Well, that helps me to be more patient and less judgmental.
  • “The text, however, explicitly attributes Joseph’s success in leadership not latent talent or personal charisma, but to divine blessing.”  Am I seeking God’s empowerment & blessing in areas where I lead or am I just relying on self?
  • “Such a stunning reversal of fortune and meteoric rise to prominence could ruin a young leader, but in the case of Joseph his sufferings have nurtured a meek spirit.”  Further proof that all good leaders must be well-acquainted with suffering.
  • “With requisite skill Joseph manages the economy of Egypt during the famine years and expands Pharaoh’s ownership of currency, land, livestock, and people.”  All the while, his personal life is in turmoil as he welcomes back into his life his brothers who had been the source of so much pain.  One who leads well is faithful to the responsibilities delegated to him and does not let the personal compromise his diligence.
  • “Joseph proved resilient in setbacks, forgiving when wronged, and faithful in stewardship because of his profound belief in a God who was working through him to accomplish the deliverance of the chosen family.  The tiny slice of history he occupied was thus dignified with greater meaning beyond the immediate.  Joseph’s overwhelming sense of privilege and accountability ruled out the petty agendas, manipulative techniques, and controlling maneuvers so endemic to leadership patterns both past and present.”   God’s perspective changes everything.

From The Me I Want to Be by John Ortberg (one of my favorite authors, I must add…)

  • “Your ‘spiritual life’ is not limited to certain devotional activities that you engage in.  It is receiving power from the Spirit of God to become the person God had in mind when he created you–his handiwork.”
  • “Flourishing means moving towards God’s best version of you.”
  • “How do you assess the the well-being of your soul?  Ask two questions:  1) Am I growing easily discouraged these days?   2) Am I growing more easily irritated these days?”
  • “At the core of a flourishing soul are the love of God and the peace of God.   If peace is growing in me, I am less easily discouraged.  If love is growing, I am less easily irritated.”

From Are Women Human?  by Dorothy L. Sayers

  • “What is repugnant to every human being is to be reckoned always as a member of a class and not as an individual.”  Agreed.

Annoyed

I know annoyance is not an admirable virtue, but this kind of stuff just puts wrinkles in my forehead.

http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&issue=soj1007&article=the-persistence-of-patriarchy

I wish we could get some clarity.

If Christ is the Head of the church and we are one body under His headship, do we really need to make this so complicated?  All this talk makes me think we’ve got too low a view of Christ.  This isn’t a male/female issue…this is a Jesus issue.  Let’s get back to making it about Him.  After all, He did say He was the Light of the world and we need Him to shine His light on this.

Blessed or Bound?

“Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.”  Psalm 119:2

Obedience has become such an antiquated word.

Parents still require it from children whose willfulness is the cause of familial disruption.  However, outside of the family structure, obedience gets very little air time.

Even in the church.

You can understand why.  My generation grew up on the rigidity of fundamentalism.  Twenty years later I’m still trying to figure out how the requirement for women to wear a dress to class at the Bible college I attended had any bearing on the condition of my heart.  Legalism strips away image-bearing, leaving us bound to image-making and faking.  It binds us to the opinion of man and the superficial standards we often use to hide our secret sins of the heart.

Legalism makes too much about people and far too little about God.

Biblical obedience is something altogether different.  It’s an expression of relationship; knowledge shared between two people who are relating to one another in love.  That’s the picture we get from Psalm 119:2.

The statutes of the Lord are generally spoken of as His self-declared nature and purpose.  When we walk in the statutes of the Lord we are walking in the knowledge of God’s transcendence–His glory, His omniscience, His omnipotence, His perfect love.  No wonder the Psalmist declares “Blessed are they…”

Biblical obedience frees us to run in fellowship with the Living God.  To share in His purity; to treasure His truth; to participate in His joy.  Biblical obedience does not suck the life out of us, as so many assume.  But when one has tasted the goodness of God experienced in obedience, life is full and rich with the presence of God.  Life is blessed.

In biblical obedience the heart has sought after and saturated itself in the greatness of God and  surrendered itself to the insignificance of self.

If you’re like me–struggling to surrender the willfulness of independence and the selfishness of self-love, take deliberate steps today to tie those hard-to-obey areas to a truth about God’s nature and be blessed by the freedom it brings.

Walking With the Lord

My new puppy hates his leash.  

I mean really hates his leash.  It goes on and he goes crazy.  Howling and barking and twisting and turning–attempting everything to break free.

Without the leash, he will have a very boring life.  He’ll never adventure on the horse trails.  Parade around the show ring.  Cheer for his boys at the baseball park.  He will stay home and enjoy the 10 by 4 portion of  yard where we have deemed it safe for him to roam without a leash.

It occurred to me yesterday as I watched the foolishness of his fight against the leash how in so many ways I am no different.

When the Spirit of God attempts to lead me to learn something new, I often grumble and complain and resist and revolt.  Fear of losing my freedom keeps me from being truly free.

Free to enjoy the places of appointment for which God is training me.

By resisting God’s leading, I see how He must then keep me in small, predictable areas for my safety.

This picture of my puppy has helped me to better understand what Paul meant when he said, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” Galatians 5:25.

The Lord has a great adventure for us–trails to explore, show rings in which to shine, and grandstands from which to cheer.  But we must first learn to walk in step with Him–as if on a leash.  This is meant for our good and for God’s glory.

Do you find yourself resisting the Lord’s leading in the very thing in which He is intending for your good?

The true me…and you

Are you ever given to over-thinking things?  I am.

Like Huckleberry Hound, I get my nose on a scent and I will exhaust myself in the search for crime and compromise.  The obvious problem is that my sleuthing usually only leads to vain imaginations.

Once the image is in place, I become victim to the tyranny of the monster my mind has created.

Ephesians 1:4 says, “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.”  My soul delights in knowing that when God looks upon me, He sees the true me.  The me hidden in Christ who is holy and blameless.  God sees me through His eyes of love and grace.  He sees me as my best me…the me He knows I’ll one day be when He has completed the work He has authored and is perfecting in Christ.

Conversely, when I look upon an adversary or someone who has hurt me, I see them through my eyes of conviction and contempt.  I see them as their worst self.

Today the Lord prompted me to read this verse differently.  “For he chose my adversary in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.”  God sees my adversary in the best light.  In the completed form, in Christ–He see them as holy.

Like a bird set free from a cage, my heart is released.  What a beautiful new creation is my brother…my sister!

How would your heart and habits extended to your brothers & sisters in Christ change if you saw them as God does?  How do you treat the holy things?  What value and special regard do you attribute to them?

I think about the instructions God gave to the Israelites for the care of the holy temple items–what if we treated each other like that?  Approaching them purely, shining them up to glisten for God’s glory, guarding their safe-keeping, and grieving over anything that attempts to taint their worth.  What if?

We would see Christ in each other, our hearts would be less judgmental, grace would be so thick you could grab hold of it, and the lost might just begin to believe the gospel has a power their life is missing.

More so, our hearts would be more greatly God-oriented.  Eugene Peterson (Practice Resurrection) refers to Paul calling the Ephesian church ‘holy’ in this way, “Holy does not refer to them as they are in themselves; it refers to who they are in God.  Paul is not particularly interested in them psychologically.  Their moral behavior doesn’t top the list of what makes them who they are.  It is God’s intent for them and God’s action for and in them that defines them.  It is not what they think of themselves, or how well they are doing in life, how good they are that defines them.  God is definitive for who they are!”  (p. 79-80)

Maybe we spend so much time sniffing out the behavior of our brothers & sisters because we have such a small glimpse of the greatness of God’s love manifested in Jesus for us…and for the difficult ‘others’ in our lives.

But that’s for this Huckleberry Hound’s next investigation.

Disciples in Contrast

Everyone is a disciple.  

A disciple is a follower.  We all follow someone…or something.

A disciple is made in the heart of a man, but is exposed by the actions of a man.  This is why Jesus exhorted His disciples, “I have set  you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:15).  What had Jesus just done?  Washed the feet of His disciples, including the one who would betray Him.  What was He about to do?  Die for them…and you…and me.

Today there is so little ‘washing of feet’ and laying down of  life that we’d all be well-served to go back and ponder verse twelve of John chapter thirteen.  “Do you understand what I have done for you?”

Do you?

Do I?

I call Jesus ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ but do I follow His example because I understand what He has done?

Our actions reveal our confusion about the true expectations of discipleship.  Instead of following Jesus by washing feet–we demand that others serve us.  Who better could Jesus have required to wait on Him hand and foot than His own disciples.  So why does He throw their equilibrium into the spin cycle?  “Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love” (John 13:1).

This love was reserved for those who were closest to Him.  As disciples do we find it easier to casually love “those out there,” while reserving judgments and demands for those who travel the dusty, hot, and exhausting roads of shared life with us?

Living in Southern California with family in Washington state, I can attest to the toll a long road trip can take on the courtesies of civility.  After eighteen hours in the car, I would hardly think to wash the feet of my family members–literally or metaphorically.  I want to be as far away as possible from the whines, whimpers, and selfish whimsies of my bio-brats.

What about our co-workers?  The ones who marginalize, dismiss or criticize us?  The ones who malign, exploit, and yes, even betray us?  Do I consider them worthy of having their feet washed?

For many, I reserve attitudes unbecoming a disciple of Christ.  Yet, it is exactly into these demanding, can’t-get-away-from relationships that Jesus says “you should also wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14).  Why?  “Because no servant is greater than his master” (John 13:15).

Am I the only one who so frequently forgets that “by this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34)?  …love one another so much that you can’t wait to wash their feet even when they are covered in the dust of criticism and enmity for you.  Father, forgive us for our pride of thinking we deserve better than our Brother Jesus.

There is one who came to kill, steal and destroy…he buries with accusation, robs peace, and suffocates unity.

And Another who came as the Way, the Truth, the Life…He came, and spoke, and loved.

There is no middle ground.  The Bible is vacant of the “just tolerate enough to get by” relationships filling our families and churches today.  Instead, we need disciples who will warm up the waters of forgiveness and follow the Jesus-way in demonstrating the full-extent of His love to those with whom they share close quarters.

Of whom will you be a disciple?