Jesus wrecks the 10 Commandments

You shall not murder. (Exodus 20:13)

In and of itself, this is just a great thing. We can always claim (hopefully), “Well, at least I didn’t kill anyone!” No matter how bad things may get in our lives, we always grasp at something… and most would grasp at this one. It’s such an assurance that we can be complete jerks in so many other ways, but at least we have the wonderful assurance we didn’t murder anyone! (It’s the small things in life, really.)

The command is there to keep people from killing without proper authority. (Even better in the good ol’ USA where we have CAPITAL PUNISHMENT.)

In the Law, there were even provisions for what could be deemed accidental killings. All well and good.

Then… God had to expand on what that meant in the full view of biblical justice. (American justice is simple: do something wrong, pay the price.) Justice in Israel was more holistic. God doesn’t want just the end result nullified… he wants the root of murder pulled out.

And it happens in “flyover” territory… Leviticus. You know, that book you avoid every year when you try to read the Bible through in a year.

16 “‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people.
“‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord.
17 “‘Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt.
18 “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people,but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.'” (Lev. 19:16-18)

You might have been under the impression Jesus brought in that extra stuff. (Matt. 5:21-22) He is only emphasizing what was already there. But, nevertheless, he wrecks the 10 commandments for us. We want to think about the minimum we can get away with in our lives (“Well, I didn’t kill anyone”) when the Law… and Jesus… tell us, “Love your neighbor.”

This is where redemption is needed. This isn’t just about gun laws or fewer gun laws. This isn’t about the Second Amendment. This is so much more core… and we just can’t get there anymore. It’s how we treat each other. It’s the respect we need to have for humanity. But we are so divided these day, all we have is hate, disdain, fear, contempt for other people and other views.

This is NOT the way of the Kingdom. Our call is live life better. To live in abundance through the power of the Spirit and see something great happen around us.

Don’t look to what you can do minimally. Look to what brings abundance and blessing to those around you.



The honoring of family

Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. (Ex. 20:12)

When we handle this relationship right, the rest of life has a better opportunity of flowing a bit better. When we learn, as children, to honor authority, and allow God to deal with that authority, we have an opportunity for healthier living. Parents don’t get it “right” all the time. (I came close…) If we can learn to deal with “wrong” decisions by parents, we learn how to walk under authority. We then learn how to walk in authority ourselves when the time comes.

The key to good societal living begins in the home. If we did not have good examples in the home growing up, we have the opportunity to create BETTER examples in our own household.

When the home is strong, the rest of society has an opportunity to be strong as well. There is a reflection on the family that can create wonderful opportunities in the world around us.

I have a picture on my desk of my dad and I walking along the riverfront in Minneapolis. I love that picture. When I glance at that picture I am reminded of the relationship I have with my dad and am grateful for the years I have with him. Even though I am now half a century into life, I still have a sense of wanting to honor my dad.

When we recently went to Alabama to have our family together for Christmas, there was an opportunity to hear what our oldest son had done. We were sitting in a local restaurant having breakfast and our oldest son ran into the director of Big Brothers/Big Sisters in Mobile. He introduced us to her and then she proceeded to brag on the project our son had done for her organization when he was in college.

Our son is 25. He is now a dad. He has a very successful business. He doesn’t “need” to know how proud that made me, but as a family, he reflected core values that showed off our family and what we believe in.

Family is core. Family is key. If we have done well as parents, we raise kids that bring value to the world around them. They build up. They don’t suck value out of the world around them… they add value to the world around them.

As I reflect on all three of our adult sons and watch them make their way in the world, there is absolutely a sense of pride. They do well. They reflect well on the values we tried to establish. (They turned out so well even in our big mistakes as parents!) The world IS a better place because we worked on family as best we could.

So, when I look at that picture of my dad and I walking, I think of how I work to carry on what he instilled in me. (My dad grew up without a dad, by the way. His father was killed before my dad was born. You can create something new from what you didn’t have yourself.) My dad created value and worth in our home. Value I want to add to our world. Value I wanted to pass along to our boys so THEY can now add value to their world.

We cannot, as believers, lose the core value of family. It makes society better.

The Gift of Rest

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Ex. 20:8-11)

This isn’t about what “day” the Sabbath is “supposed” to be on. It is not about the specifics of how you “keep it holy.”

This is about trust. Sabbath is trust. The Lord provided a day of rest regularly for a slave nation. They had worked all their lives in every way possible. He then built in other “sabbaths” for them: the land to rest, debts to be settled, etc.

It was all about trust. Could they rely on provision of Yahweh, or did they think the world would stop turning if they didn’t take a day off? Could they trust Yahweh with what they did NOT do as well as what they DID do?

Is there a TRUST in the Father in your life? Or, are you there to “help God out?”


The Lord’s Name in Vain

As we journey through Exodus 19-24 this week our MULTIPLY reading, I am walking a bit more slowly through the 10 commandments. It is impossible to unpack that passage in one sermon, so I am jotting some thoughts down along the way this week to spur on more thinking.

What does it mean to NOT “take the Lord’s name in vain?” The NIV says  “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”

Through the time of deliverance God kept unfolding his name to Israel. As he “unpacked” the power of his name, it was important for Israel to keep recognizing Yahweh was the One who had delivered them. To not revere that fact was to “misuse” his name.

J.K. Bruckner in his commentary on Exodus said this:

This is a direct reference to remembering who had delivered them. God’s reputation was tied to God’s name in the exodus. Its “use” or “lifting up” in a positive way declared God’s works of grace and deliverance. To speak of the Lord after Sinai was also to declare that God’s laws were formative for the new community of faith. To speak of God without reference to the creating law and redeeming gospel could be a vain use of God’s name, that is, God’s reputation.

Remember who delivered you. Remember who redeemed you. Hold him holy. To use his name is to refer to HIM.

May my words truly reflect the holiness of my God!

The Covenant Walk with God

This morning I am right back at my life as pastor. Eleven days with my family, including a new grandson, have spoiled me!

Entering into 2016 our church continues to walk through the MULTIPLY discipleship material. We are in the covenant between God and Israel this week and I have focused on Exodus 19 and 20. For my message, there is no way to walk through the 10 commandments successfully in one message, so I want to give some thoughts along the way this week through blogging.

2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Ex. 20:2-3, NIV)

Quite possibly the most difficult part of Exodus is trying to figure out how “law” and “love” go together. We might think of “law” and have in mind it is something to keep, or ignore, or break.

The temptation is to get quite “literal” and think, “Well, when it comes to other gods… I don’t have any idols in my house!”

How are we in relation to the other gods around us, though? In every culture we battle “gods” or “strongholds.” The three greatest strongholds in America: Money, Sex, Power. And there are hundreds of smaller “gods” attached to them. Consumerism. Greed. Violence. Racism.

What saves us from legalism is to be reminded that it is GOD who acted toward us. He delivered Israel. He delivered US. Out of that gratefulness should rise a heart that says, “GLADLY! I will serve no other!”

We are still tested with it every day, though. We like our own control. We like our material stuff. We like our daily habits that may be in conflict with pure worship.

The Lord will want to deal with those in our lives. Are we will willing to lay it all on the table FOR HIM?

What gods are getting in your way?