Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

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.

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.

Sabbath Day Thoughts

We often hear Jesus speak about how the Jewish Sabbath got all mixed up in the mind of the nation of Israel by the time he arrived on the scene.   He speaks of how the heart of a man was more important that the outward action that he might observe in his religious service.

In light of that during my morning reading today I took note of something I haven’t seen up until now.  Matthew 25 is the great chapter on preparedness before the coming of the King and ends with the picture of the sheep and goats being separated in the end of the age based on the life of love, service, and kindness that they lived.  Jesus tells us that the judgment in the end of the age will be based on how we cared about people.

And then I noticed this:

Matthew 26:1-2  When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples,  2 “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”

The very next thing that comes from the mouth of Jesus is the fact that he will be delivered up to be crucified.  We often think of the last supper sermon as some of the most important words of our Lord because they were spoken on the night he was betrayed.  You often tell your people what is most important right before the end of your time with them.

In light of that think about what Jesus has just said to his disciples in Matthew 25 and directly following that he tells them that he is going to die at the hands of the Romans! He must have felt that his words in Matthew 25 were important if he ends his time with them by saying he is doing to be crucified.

I was an interesting observation this morning I think which again stresses to me the importance of the record in Matthew 25.  We spend much time in our churches and homes talking about “the most important thing” or “what one must do to be saved” – certainly these conversations must be had and continue, but I offer this morning that we should include this great section of Scripture in our conversation.

Matthew 25:31-40  1 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.  32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.  34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’  37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

So as the new year approaches, consider what our lives must be about in anticipation of the coming of the King & his judgment of the world.

Shabbat Shalom.

Laying the Foundations For a More Beautiful Daughter [A More Beautiful You (Part II)]

This weekend we have one of the biggest celebrated holidays of the year.  Halloween is deeply routed in the american culture and has been for a very long time.  Many fathers and mothers will dress their sons and daughters in costumes and go trick or treating with them while the other parent stays home to hand out candy to their neighbors children as they come to there door.

Before they know it, their children will not need them to help with the costumes nor need (or want) their supervision while they practice these Halloween traditions.

Plea’s from much christian leadership are viewed as legalistic, stubborn, extremist, etc.  The arguments from the christians are old, repetitive and at this point dull.

After all, why would we deprive the children of such fun and enjoyment? Especially when all there friends are doing it as well.  Do you expect them to endure the emotional scars of being “left out”?

When these children grow up, and enter into a theoretical phase of life called adolescence, they will continue to celebrate this holiday, why would it be wrong now when it was not wrong in the past?  They may even continue to celebrate into their adulthood.

And it is at this stage in life that I would like to focus on in the rest of the article. Halloween becomes a costume party for adolescents and adults.  I saw a satirical article the other day about the adult costume options that are out there.  There are many options for men and women, but the women’s costumes seem to have an underlying theme, that being of sexual exploitation.  After  reading the article I searched online for halloween costumes (literally typing those words into google.)  When I clicked on the women’s section of all the sites I went to, I would say about 70-80% of the costumes for women contained either the word sexy, or foxy or sultry or some other word to that effect.  Most of the other remaining costumes did not have these descriptive words, but were designed very with the same mind set. I even found 2 sensual costumes of a popular teenage character from a well known movie.  When I clicked on the teenage women’s costumes, I was very surprised at how revealing those were as well (including a “frisky” costume.)

The depiction of women in the media is horrendous.  I won’t pretend to know what its like to be a woman and be bombarded with images of what I’m expected to look like that only realistically represents less than 1% of the population, but I do know the pressure is huge.  Women are treated as sexual objects all the time, but it seems especially so on Halloween.  And the arguments to participate in such a way does not change from when they are a child.  Why be deprived of such fun and enjoyment?  All their friends are doing it as well?  Do you expect them to endure the emotional scars of being left out?

The pressure for women to look this way is immense in our culture, and I see some feel the need to look like everybody else.  I just want to encourage the men out there to let the women they know and love that we are disgusted by this aspect of our culture.  That when we see women that reject and not conform to this, we find them more beautiful.  Also, I want to encourage parents not to plant seeds of conformity this weekend.  I feel that planting seeds of nonconformity will do so much more.

Romans 12:18 – Be At Peace With All Men

Romans 12:18 – If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

I have heard people use this verse as justification for not being at peace with all men.  Ironic, I know.  I don’t think that this verse is telling us that we should try to be at peace, but when you just can’t take it anymore, let there be conflict.

I think that as Christians, we should work hard to have peace with each other, our neighbors and even those who are our enemies.  Let conflict exist and strife continue only on account of the other party – but never because of us.  I think that’s what Paul is saying here – as much as it depends on us, lets be at peace with all men – but if that peace doesn’t come – may it not be because we did not do everything we could to work towards it.

We should be people marked by peace, kindness, gentleness and humility.  May we not give the world a reason to point towards our lives or the church as an excuse to not be a part of it because of our lack of love, peace or unwillingness to reconcile.

“Let Them Hate Us”

John 15.18-20 – “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.

“the world hates you.”

Let them hate us if they must.

Let them hate us for refusing to love the culture they hold so dear.

Let them hate us for being ignorant of the drama associated with their stars;

for not singing along with their degrading music;

for our absence at the theater when the next horror movie comes out.

Let them hate us for our lack of nationalistic fervor;

for our absence from the rebellion parade;

for our slack hands and silent mouths when their pledge is uttered.

Let them hate us for staying home on the night that the dead are memorialized

for having no tree adorning in our homes;

for staying sober when their custom is to wear green.

Let them hate us for our modesty, our integrity, our sobriety,

But, let them never hate us for hypocrisy.

Let them never hate us for hard-heartedness.

Let them never hate us for lacking cross-shaped love.

Like Shagging For Celibacy

Peacemaker Jarrod McKenna has some timely words on Jim Wallis’ “God’s Politics” blog. Surely the great witness of those who follow the prince of peace is their sacrificial love like he had.  Sadly as we know, not only are the nations full of violence, those who claim to be followers of Jesus are as well.  McKenna makes some great points here which should be considered by all.

Jesus did NOT Kill Mohammed

by Jarrod McKenna 05-13-2009

090513-jesus-killed-muhammad-harpers“Jesus Killed Mohammed” was written in Arabic in large red letters on the side of a U.S. Army Special Forces vehicle, armed to kill and rolling through a town in Iraq. It sounds like a bad Mad-Maxesque Hollywood adaption of the Crusades set in our contemporary context. The scene gets more chilling and horrific:

Then, while they put the translator on the roof with a bullhorn, shouting in Arabic, ‘Jesus killed Mohammed,’ … training American guns on anybody who responded, the Bradley fighting vehicle rolled out into the city of Samarra and drawing fire everywhere it went, leading the Special Forces to conclude that every single Iraqi who took offense at these words, ‘Jesus killed Mohammed,’ was part of the enemy and therefore needed to be destroyed.

The driver of this vehicle went on to “blow up everything he saw” because he explained later, “God was on his side.” But this is not just a terrible movie where we can simply pick up our popcorn and walk out in protest. This scene is not from a form of sadomasochistic voyeurism that so often passes for ‘film’ and gets sold to us as soul-numbing entertainment. This scene is out of the brave and chilling article by Jeff Sharlet exposing horrors of a contemporary fundamentalist right-wing Constantinian “Christianity” that has divorced itself from the ‘foolish’ nonviolence of the cross and has prostituted itself to another violent military-industrial-growth-complex, like the one that crucified Christ.

While the U.S. military is seeking to go into damage control and discipline soldiers who have broken the proselytizing laws, the church must also deal with the damage to our witness that saying “Jesus is the Way” while failing to live “the Way of Jesus” causes. There are deep questions we as the church must ask that go to the heart of who God is, what the gospel is, and what God’s grace calls us to and empowers us for.

The scriptures are clear:

“We know that we have come to know [Christ] if we obey his commands. The person that says, ‘I know [Christ],’ but does not do what [Christ] commands is a liar, and the truth is not in them. But if anyone obeys [Christ’s] word, God’s love is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in [Christ]: Whoever claims to live in [Christ] must walk as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:3-6)

As my mate Greg Boyd puts it in his timely and important new book, The Myth of the Christian Religion,

“… the clearest evidence that we are being transformed by God’s love and participating in the Kingdom that is not ‘of this world’ is that we adopt the same nonviolent, self-sacrificial stance toward enemies that Jesus had.”

Another prophetic book, recently re-released that calls us as the church to be (what Greg would call), “a giant Jesus in the world”, is Lee Camp’s Mere Discipleship. Lee reminds us,

“[The early churches] model of evangelism … if you wish the world to believe what you say, you must live as if you believe what you say … Evangelism is not selling Jesus, but showing Jesus; evangelism is not mere telling about Christ, but about being Christ.”

In our ministry, we are encountering a generation that wants to repent of a Christianity that looks like the violent injustice of Empires seen in the Crusades. This generation is hungry to embrace a Christianity that looks like the justice-seeking nonviolent ‘kingdom’ seen in Christ. And this is no longer just a fringe movement. You can listen to the audio here (or downloadable here) from one of Australia’s largest churches where “Living God’s Love: The Way of The Cross” is being preached and how the Spirit is moving and empowering a generation to live God’s Calvary-shaped love for ‘the least of these.’

This generation realizes that biblically, the only way the church practices “evangelism” and “mission” is to live and love like Christ, in such ways that others ask of us “why do your lives look like lovegrace, and peace?”  When we “walk as Jesus did,” our lives will provoke such questions. And we will be read to answer, “Our God is love. Jesus’ gospel of the kingdom is grace. And we are empowered by the Spirit to live a kingdom peace.”  Our generation is waking up to realize that killing for Jesus makes as much sense as shagging for celibacy.

portrait-jarrod-mckennaJarrod McKenna is seeking to live God’s love. As a Vine and Fig Tree Planter, he plants “signs” on military bases that draw the connections between God’s kingdom, militarism, and climate change.  He is a co-founder of the Peace Tree Community, serving with the marginalized in one of the poorest areas in his city, heads up Together for Humanity in Western Australia (an interfaith youth initiative serving together for the common good), and is the founder and creative director of Empowering Peacemakers (EPYC), for which he has received anAustralian peace award for his work in empowering a generation of (eco)evangelists and peace prophets.

Jarrod’s original article was taken From – http://blog.sojo.net/2009/05/13/jesus-did-not-kill-mohammed/ and shared with us by Jarrod who is our friend on facebook.