God is good

All the time.

30 For 30

Hello All,

I wanted to write you a note to let you all know that starting Monday, February 20th, I will begin a month long period of detachment from the world as I prepare my heart, mind and soul to turn 30 years old. I am so excited about this time and I would appreciate your prayers.

I will be not be using the internet, social media, or watching TV/movies during this time. Instead, being intentional to use this time to pray, read the Bible, fast, and serve the Lord in various deliberate ways. I will only be checking email twice each day and limiting my time. Things that are required for my jobs (uploading the sermon, changing website, etc) will be done as needed.

I believe strongly that this is something God wants me to do. Russell Brown approached me about doing this with him about a month ago. He did something similar last year for his 30th birthday and it was a powerful time for him. Since he spoke to me about it last month I have not been able to shake it – God has been settling it on my heart more and more. With this in mind, I proceed with great expectation & joy.

Thanks for your prayers and love. May God be glorified in our lives.

Victor

Buying The Field

In the time of Jeremiah, the Babylonians had already exiled some of the people of Israel.  Jeremiah was very unpopular at the time in the nation because he was the one who had said that the Babylonians were going to come, take over and that Israel should submit to them or it will be even worse.

So Jeremiah sits in jail, and God wants to declare to the people that one day He will restore the people to Israel and rebuild Jerusalem. The way God illustrates this point is in the following way:

Jeremiah 32:1-19  (ESV)  – The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar.  2 At that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the guard that was in the palace of the king of Judah.  3 For Zedekiah king of Judah had imprisoned him, saying, “Why do you prophesy and say, ‘Thus says the LORD: Behold, I am giving this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall capture it;  4 Zedekiah king of Judah shall not escape out of the hand of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him face to face and see him eye to eye.  5 And he shall take Zedekiah to Babylon, and there he shall remain until I visit him, declares the LORD. Though you fight against the Chaldeans, you shall not succeed’?”

6 Jeremiah said, “The word of the LORD came to me:  7 Behold, Hanamel the son of Shallum your uncle will come to you and say, ‘Buy my field that is at Anathoth, for the right of redemption by purchase is yours.’  8 Then Hanamel my cousin came to me in the court of the guard, in accordance with the word of the LORD, and said to me, ‘Buy my field that is at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, for the right of possession and redemption is yours; buy it for yourself.’ Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD.  9 “And I bought the field at Anathoth from Hanamel my cousin, and weighed out the money to him, seventeen shekels of silver.  10 I signed the deed, sealed it, got witnesses, and weighed the money on scales.

11 Then I took the sealed deed of purchase, containing the terms and conditions and the open copy.  12 And I gave the deed of purchase to Baruch the son of Neriah son of Mahseiah, in the presence of Hanamel my cousin, in the presence of the witnesses who signed the deed of purchase, and in the presence of all the Judeans who were sitting in the court of the guard.  13 I charged Baruch in their presence, saying,  14 ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Take these deeds, both this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware vessel, that they may last for a long time. 15 For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.’

16 “After I had given the deed of purchase to Baruch the son of Neriah, I prayed to the LORD, saying:  17 ‘Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who has made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.  18 You show steadfast love to thousands, but you repay the guilt of fathers to their children after them, O great and mighty God, whose name is the LORD of hosts,  19 great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the children of man, rewarding each one according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds. (…then the rest of the section Jeremiah praised God)

It takes time to do all of this.  It costs money to make such a purposes.  God’s intention in making this illustration through His prophet was to visually declare to the people of the land that God remained committed to His promises.  Though they had broken His covenant and turned to other Gods, He was still faithful to the words He had spoken to Abraham, David & those who trusted in Him.  So God has Jeremiah buy a field to show that God has not given up on the place.

You think that’s something?! What about what God did for you to declare His commitment to His word?

1 Peter 1:18-19 – …you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers,  19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

Revelation 5:9-10 – And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.  10 “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”

1 Corinthians 6:20a –  For you have been bought with a price…

How sure is God’s commitment to His covenants and His word – He declare the seriousness of His investment through the cross.  In Jeremiah we see a man who buys a field declaring that the land is valuable to God.  In Jesus we see that mankind is valuable as he is offered on our behalf.  I bet Jeremiah’s buying of the field caught some people’s attention at the time.  May the amazing love of God shown through the cross woo us from the world and towards the merciful one who gave himself for us all.

2 Corinthians 5:21   21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Something To Do On A Friday Night

Gather your friends…I hope this is good.

John Piper @ Mars Hill tonight @ 10pm EST

better than getting sloshed.

Myth: There Isn’t Much We Can Do

So maybe you have been hearing and seeing of the news now 2 weeks after the earthquake in Haiti and you’ve thought “I should do something.  I should send money.  I should donate something.”  Maybe you have spoken about it with someone close to you about the best way you could help.  But then maybe life got busy again for you.  Maybe your desire to think-through the best way to help has led you to do nothing because you’re just not sure if it will do any good.  Afterall, you can’t give enough to make the pain all go away – so then why do anything at all?

Here’s why that is problematic – I know someone who can give $100 to help people in Haiti and I know 20 people who can give $5 to help people in Haiti.  The one who has $100 really believes that their gift can help – so they give.  The 20 people with $5 don’t think that their gift can make a dent in the huge number of need – so they don’t give.  So rather than $200 going to help from 21 people giving, only $100 gets sent and 20 people buy a Venti Carmel Machiato at Starbucks that’s gone in 30mins.

I’ll be honest with you – I don’t know the best place for you to give.  Perhaps some Christian organizations help in relief efforts and do so with a heart of Christ – some governmental or non-profit organizations have more resources to get to where the greatest needs are.  I just wanted to highlight the fact that many of us have thought about doing something but then done nothing because the little we could do we thought wouldn’t help.  Below are a few articles that might help ease your concerns and enlighten us to what is going on in light of people helping:

Disaster Relief Myths: Busted

7 Myths of Disaster Relief

Christianity Today’s Haiti Help Blog

7 year old raises $200,000

Why not take some time today and pray about what you can and should do to help – rather than almost giving, which is actually not giving. And take some time today to pray for the people who live in Haiti – many of them devoted to the Christ – who have lost loved ones, lost homes that they would turn their eyes to the One who seeks the lost.  How wonderful it would be if Christians would be known as the most generous and compassionate people on earth.

James 1:27 – Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

For those of you who have encouragment on how to help, please leave a comment below.

A Disturbing Prayer

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

attributed to Sir Francis Drake (1577)

Sabbath Day Thoughts

The people of God are not to be like the people of this world.  They are to be worlds apart – in their love, actions, thoughts, words, heart. Imagine looking at the same situation as another but yet having a totally different perspective than they do on the same circumstance. That’s how your whole life should be verses how it used to be and how the world still is.

Think about the difference of perspective between these two groups during the same event.

The people
Exodus 14:11-12 – They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt?  12 Is not this what we said to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”

Moses
Exodus 14:13-14 – And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again.  14 The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

A major difference between Moses & the people at this point is that Moses had come to see and know the LORD. I imagine the people of Israel were still being introduced to the very God was was currently leading them out of slavery. Moses had seen first hand how God had worked from the burning bush to the final plague.  Though the people had probably become integrated in Egyptian society and life at this point, one thing we certainly know from Moses is that he maintained his identity as a descendant of Abraham.

When you take a long journey, you often forget an important item after you’ve left home already.  Sometimes its your toothbrush, extra socks, or a particular bag.  You probably forget to take this item with you because of the commotion often involved in leaving the house quickly.  You thought your spouse or child was going to get the bag perhaps.  Whatever the reason it is because you are thinking about leaving and arriving at your destination more than you are about making sure you have all of your things.

Moses we see was not like this.  In all of the commotion of his own exodus from Egypt, appearing before Pharaoh, and gathering together all of the people of Israel, his mind is still fixed on the great promise of God towards Abraham.  We see this in the fact that he did not forget a most important item:

Exodus 13:19 – Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones with you from here.”

May our minds be fixed on the world to come to the point that it marks us out as different from the world around us now.  May today be a day where we practice the life of the age to come today.

Shabbat Shalom.

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