Friday, December 21, 2007

King of the Jews

This last Sunday Pastor David was preaching...He was talking about several things but there was one thing that stood out to me. He read Matthew 2. In verses 1-7 an interesting thing transpires. As you read take special note of Herod.

Matthew 2
The Visit of the Magi 1After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."
3When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5"In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written: 6" 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'"
7Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."
9After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. 12And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route."

Did you see it? I hadn't ever noticed this particular little thing before Pastor David pointed it out...Herod is called "King Herod" with a capitol "K" until verse 7. From that point on he is referred to with a small "k" or by his name only. This is no minor detail as, well, he could have bought Bill Gates out for what would have seemed like a song to him.

I love the small things of the Bible that say so much...

Monday, December 17, 2007


I was just listening to John Piper on He made an interesting statement. He said, "God has edges." God IS this. God IS NOT that. I can get to know Him if I know what He is and is not. That is so polar opposite of our culture where everything is GREY. EVERYTHING is ok. EVERYTHING is acceptable...There are no "edges" as it were. "Tolerance overtakes TRUTH." (Mark Driscoll) "And the feelings of people overtake the feelings of God. Passivity takes over and it changes how you live...if it's all just opinion and perspective and ideology...why live passionately? Why live differently?..." (Mark Driscoll)

Hebrews 4:12, 13 "God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon's scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God's Word. We can't get away from it—no matter what."

Sunday, December 2, 2007

meandering thoughts...

It snowed today! Beautiful white snow. I love how the world looks when it's cozy, so clean. I was thinking how in the Bible how it says, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow..." (Is. 1:18).

I was also thinking about much joy they find in the simplest thing. It struck me that Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18:3)...there are so many days that I forget the simplicity and joy and wonder of a child. Life gets so complex. I'm so thankful to have the children that God gave me around me every day. When I take the time they are a constant reminder...I think He's pretty strategic in His reminders...when we are children it's easy to remember what that verse means, when we are parents or auntie and uncles, it's easy if we take the time...and then as grandparents those wee ones remind us every phase. God is good all the time...

fences vs. relationship

Today in church our wonderful Pastor Mark gave a really good teaching on a particular text that I have always stopped over and pondered but never really got what it was saying...well I thought it was saying one thing but it was really saying something else.

Matthew 5:17-20
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven."

ok...I will break it down like he did (or I will try is what I should say :)).
1) that word "law" is a REALLY bad translation, come to find out. Because when we see that word we associate it with rules to keep. So here is the more accurate word "Torah": the very words of God...the Bible. The Torah is about relationship...not rules and regulations. It's a spiritual map. I.E.: Deut. 6:5 says, "Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." Mark 12: 30-31 says, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark added "with all your mind" to the original text b/c he was a Greek writing to Greeks...our culture is much more Greek than Jewish...the mind vs. emotion.)
-Here's a clarifying point :): There is something called "Rabbinic Fences". And example of this was with Moses (Ex. 19:12-13 "Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, 'Be careful that you do not go up the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. He shall surely be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on him. Whether man or animal, he shall not be permitted to live.'). So were did the mountain start? Did it start at the base of the mountain or the foothills...where? So Moses built a fence and told people not to cross it. There is nothing wrong with fences. We all need limits. But the thing is that we tend to focus on the fences and in doing so miss the whole point...Rabbinic Fences. The Rabbi's of Jesus' time had 613 laws (and some still today) that they kept this way focusing on the fences...remember in John 9 or Luke 13 and 14 when Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath and the religious leaders went nuts? He had "worked" on the Sabbath. In Luke He asked them if they would help their animal out of a ditch...wouldn't you heal a man from sickness then? The point was they were looking at fences. The Sabbath was made for man not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27). The Sabbath was made for us so we could know God, love Him, and love people.
-the Rabbi's of that time had laws that were more important, in the 613, and less important. I.E.: After loving God the most important one was "Honor your father and mother...that your days may be long and it may go well with you (Ex 20:12, Deut. 5:16, and Lev. 19:3)". The least law can be found in Deut. 2:6,7 having to do with not killing a mother bird, etc.. It's something like we view certain sins...murder vs. lying...which is worse in our eyes? Murder of course!

So what Jesus was saying to them (and us really) is that they/us had missed the whole point. It's not about the laws/rules...the fences...those are there for protection. It's about 2 simple things..."Love the Lord your God..." with ALL of you. And "Love your neighbor as yourself". That about covers it. That's what the whole Bible and the kingdom of heaven are all about. Very simple. It's about right relationship not keeping fences.

In Vs. 18 of Matthew 5 He talks about us being able to count on the Word of God. John 1:1-5,14 says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning.
3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it...14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."
Jesus is the Word. All the Torah will be accomplished. So this is where not taking the Bible and picking our favorite parts or the understandable parts comes in. It's all's "Whatever You say we will do" vs. taking the Bible under advisement.

In order to do what He asks
1)we have to know WHAT He asks and that means we have to be people of the Word. We need to know the very words of God. Be men and women of the text.
2) we cannot twist it for our I have been thinking about this lately with my Grandpa dying. As I was sitting in his room watching him struggle more and more to breath as his lungs filled with fluid. Watching the end approach I had thought of understanding why people do euthanasia. My grandpa was suffering and it was uncomfortable for me to watch. It was uncomfortable for him. I felt completely helpless. Now this goes against what I understand the Bible to say about life and it's value. It goes against EVERYTHING I believe...God holds all life in His hands...but it sure would have been easy to twist what I believe for my own comfort and his (not that it was an option not that I wanted it to be an option...but it was the first time I understood people who do this...their thinking). It's true with complex things like that and simple things like stealing. I realize there is mercy and grace in this life...Romans 6:1 says do we keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? NO WAY!
...there were lots of other excellent point like not using the Bible to judge others or inflate ourselves...but the above 2 are the ones that stood out to me.

Psalms. 19:7-14 is to be our view of the text of the entire Bible:
"The revelation of God is whole and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of God are clear and point out the right road.
The life-maps of God are right, showing the way to joy.
The directions of God are plain and easy on the eyes.
God's reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee.
The decisions of God are accurate down to the nth degree.
God's Word is better than a diamond, better than a diamond set between emeralds.
You'll like it better than strawberries in spring, better than red, ripe strawberries.
There's more: God's Word warns us of danger and directs us to hidden treasure.
Otherwise how will we find our way? Or know when we play the fool?
Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh!
Keep me from stupid sins, from thinking I can take over your work;
Then I can start this day sun-washed, scrubbed clean of the grime of sin.
These are the words in my mouth;
these are what I chew on and pray.
Accept them when I place them on the morning altar,
O God, my Altar-Rock, God, Priest-of-My-Altar. "

May I be a woman of the text of Lord my God...