Posts Tagged ‘God’

A More Beautiful You (Part 4)

I have been reading through Proverbs each day this month.  He’s a selection from the reading today.  How appropriate:

Proverbs 31:10-31 – 10 An excellent wife who can find?  She is far more precious than jewels. 11The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. 12She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. 13She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. 14She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. 15She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. 16She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. 17She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.18She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. 19She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. 20She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. 21She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. 22She makes bed coverings for herself;  her clothing is fine linen and purple. 23Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. 24She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. 25 Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. 26She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. 27She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 29“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” 30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. 31Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.

What a great way to end the book of Proverbs.  Though perhaps it seems as if some of the references are outdated and not clear because of the lives we live today – nonetheless this is a picture of a godly, virtuous and excellent woman and wife.

The qualities of this woman are beautiful.  She is caring.  She is self-sacrificial.  She is giving.  She is diligent.  She cares for her husband and family.

And she receives praise from God, her family, and friends because she fears the LORD.  This is the woman to be praised – the one who chooses to fear God and live a life of love.

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A More Beautiful You (Part 3)

Galatians 3:27-29 – For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

There are a lot of reasons to love this section of Scripture.  The picture of being united with Christ.  The truth of being a descendant of Abraham by faith.  But one of the reasons I love these verses is because of what verse 28 says and when it says it.

Paul’s letter to the Galatian church was written during a time where there were not “equal rights.”   Men and women didn’t have the same status in society by any means.  It would be rare to find a woman who had a job other than taking care of the house and the kids.  In the Jewish culture of the time the men could do things that the women couldn’t.  And right in the middle of this Paul says that the Christian – whether a man or a woman – are one in Christ Jesus!  There aren’t the distinctions that are found in the world:

“there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and femail, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”

Jesus is into leveling the playing field – through his gospel, barriers are broken that exist in this age.  This is good news!  Christian women, you are the daughters of God and the sisters of Christ!  You are heirs of the Abrahamic Promise!  You are filled with the spirit of Christ!  In just these four points you are given more than women of history have been given for a long time – and from the creator of heaven and earth.

This equality did not come by protest.  It did not come by social action.  It was not granted through legislation.  It did not happen because of the times changing.  It came because God is compassionate.  It came because God is merciful.  It came because God values your life.

God doesn’t have prejudices like the world does.  He is not impartial.  And because He has this sort of character – He values men and women alike.

Even in the Old Testament where some would argue that women are not painted in a favorable light, God used women throughout the narrative for His purposes.  Miriam helps save Moses and leads Israel in praise to the LORD.  Rahab is rewarded and rescued.  Deborah leads God’s people.  Hannah’s prayer is answered.  Ruth is cared for.  I could go on and on.  (Feel free to add more in the comments section)

This is not the story of man (as in “males”).  The Bible contains the plan and purposes of God for the earth and it’s inhabitants – man and woman.

So my beautiful Christin sisters, praise the LORD for imparting this mercy and offering you the chance to be a part of His family!

(and guys, we’ve got a lot of praising to do too for God’s mercy on us…but that’s another post for another day…)

A More Beautiful You (Part I)

I love this song.  I love that a handsome young man is writing a song to young women to tell them that they are beautiful because God says they are.  He sings that they don’t need to work to impress anyone other than the one who loves them already.  God is impressed by faith.  He’s not impressed by your looks, weight, waist, bust, clothes, or any other thing.

My sisters in Christ, I know that it seems to be getting harder and harder in our society for women to find their value in God.  The media is pummeling you with what you should look like, be or do.  Even though the image they present is unreleased and empty, subtly they trick you into thinking it’s worth attaining.

Sisters, Jesus died for you.  You are tremendously valuable to God.  He loves you.  He has planned for you to be with Him in paradise forever.

Don’t try to get your value from anything other than the value that God has ascribed to you because of the cross.

Don’t look for it from your husband.
Don’t look for it from your boy friend.
Don’t look for it from your friends.
Don’t look for it from your classmates.
Don’t look for it from your co-workers.
Don’t look for it from your neighbors.
Don’t look for it from that guy.
Look from it from the God.

What Johnny Diaz is singing is something for us all to consider – but especially for the women of God who are being tempted to thinking that it is the outward appearance which men value, other women value, or even God values.

I Peter 3:3-5b – “Your adornment must not be merely external–braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves”

Church: Getting In The Way

Sean and I attended a church service this past Sunday night which got me thinking about the role and function of the church.  Certainly we know that biblically, “the church” is not the building, but the people who gather together, be it in a building, a home or on the street who are joining together to worship God, encourage each other and take time to read Scripture, share a message, sing, pray, etc.  Different people have different experiences and what they consider the church and I’m not writing this to talk about which version is best, what should be included, removed etc.

One of the things that struck me during this past Sunday’s fellowship was the pastor’s lengthy and descriptive apology from the church to the world, the church, the lost, the Christians and more.  He shared his heart with the congregation about the flaws that have persisted in him, and the leaders of the particular section of the church.

And here’s what it got me thinking – we must work hard to be transparent.  People have been offended, rejected, turned off, upset, hurt and the like by this thing called “the church” and some of that has been their fault and some of that has been the fault of the people of the church.  That any of this is the fault of the church is really sad – we need to represent Jesus and point people to the Father like he did.

Our worship services can’t be about us.  They need to be about God.
Our method for teaching the Bible can’t be about us.  It needs to be about God.
Our discipleship can’t be about us.  It needs to be about God.

And where there is some of “us” still existing in how we are doing things, we need to decrease and let Christ increase by the spirit.

The pastor’s apology ended with a sobering plea.  He said something to the effect of “if you’re one of those who have been pushed away because of the church, our flaws, our sins, or whatever – please do not give up on God on account of us.”

I join in with his words – Please do not think that God is like us.  God is great and merciful and just and loving and compassionate and wise and forgiving and faithful and powerful and more and more.

We need to stop making God like us and we need to be like the God who is.  When we make God in our image, people come to know Him and then they hate a God who is critical, judgmental, over opinionated, under involved.  And then they will go on having experienced what they were told God and Christianity was like and it had little to do with God or Christ.

So lets do church this way – get out of the way.  Lets be like Jesus so that when they see us – they see the Father.

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church… [Ephesians 3:20-21a]

For a great picture as to what the church should be about, click here to listen to Sean’s message “A Beautiful People”

Sabbath Day Thoughts

Last week was great.  As I start out my new day this morning I was realizing how as Rob Bell said in his podcast, devoting Saturday as a day of rest takes (ironically) some work.  In anticipation of not having to “get things done” today, my wife and I both had to get things done yesterday.  We’re having some friends over for dinner tonight – so we had to get the house clean yesterday so we didn’t find ourselves spending the entire afternoon today cleaning up.  There’s nothing wrong with cleaning up…it’s important obviously, but neither of us wanted to spend today resting by cleaning up the house.

This is certainly something that you must take the time during the week to prepare for.  I don’t want things to be piling up in my life so much that they spill over to today.  If there are specific needs, that’s something different – but if because of the busy-ness of my life and I have too much on my plate to the point of it spilling over to today.

I found last week a little challenging with the no blackberry (etc) pledge.  It wasn’t because I felt like I needed to be connected, because in fact time with my wife alone was all I wanted – I just found myself reaching for it to pass the time while I was waiting for something, wondering if any email had come in, etc.  I am observing that simply because it seems that there are some areas of my life where I need to be quiet, and rest and I am not used to that.  It’s kind of like when you get into your car and you immediately reach for the radio.  Maybe some of you don’t know what I mean by that, but that automatic, subconscious almost act of reaching for the radio – simply because part of getting into your car, turning it on, and preparing to pull out it turning the radio on.  That’s what I don’t want to have towards my blackberry, computer, or anything else really – but towards God (with the exception of the whole ‘mindless’ part).

So today I hope to spend time being revived physically and spiritually.  I am looking forward to time with my family, time at home and time enjoying the life that God has given to me – this should be a day not of neglecting the things of God but remembering His goodness and faithfulness – and a memorial of the coming day of rest for His people.

Freed To Serve

Thought this was a great sermon from yesterday’s service at Living Hope Community Church in Latham, NY taught by Rev. Vince Finnegan.  Visit their website at www.KingdomReady.org for more information.

The points that this sermon highlights are important for Christians to understand.  In the same way that Israel was freed from slavery so that they might serve the LORD, so Christians have been freed from sin so that they might serve and live for the LORD.  So often however, like Israel, people will turn from God at the first sign of adversity.  They will return to the very thing they used to be enslaved to, thinking that life was better back then.  God does not promise a life without trials but He does promise His people to be with them and guide them through this life until our promised land, the Kingdom of God is reached.

  • What thoughts come to your mind after watching this sermon?
  • Do you find yourself turning back to the things you were once enslaved to when hard times come?
  • What do you think one must do so that we turn to God and not sin when challenges come?
  • What did you think about what Rev. Finnegan spoke about regarding the two perspectives that people might have, even sitting next to each other in church hearing the same song?

Is Our Pain God’s Problem? – Bart Ehrman & N.T. Wright

Two of HGO’s favorites (for different reasons) discuss via blog posts this important topic on suffering, evil in the world and the Kingdom of God.
Here’s a brief summary –
Is our pain God’s problem? If God is good and all-powerful, why does he allow so much suffering? These kinds of questions—sometimes called the problem of theodicy—have long bothered believers and nonbelievers alike. These questions are especially pressing now as we face the AIDS pandemic, widespread hunger, and environmental degradation—not to mention the grief that humans can cause one another. Our two guests for this new Beliefnet Blogalogue have devoted part of their lives to addressing these issues. Bart Ehrman is James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and the author of God’s Problem and Misquoting Jesus, among many other titles. N.T. Wright is the Bishop of Durham for the Church of England and has taught at McGill, Oxford, and Cambridge. His books include Surprised By Hope, Evil and the Justice of God, and several other titles.