The necessity of waiting on God

Moses was called up to the mountain. There he was in the powerful presence of God 40 days and nights.

Moses spent the forty days in the presence of God and received the blueprint for God’s heart concerning Israel.

Israel “waited” at the bottom of the mountain and fell back to their old patterns from Egypt.

Moses received the heart of God. Israel built a golden calf.

When God “delays,” how do we RESPOND?

Smokescreen

100 years ago there was an obscure “archduke” assassinated by a small faction of a small ethnic group that just seemed like nothing in the news. It was so out of the way, WHY would it be significant? There were bigger things on the table at the time. People wouldn’t pay attention to some backwater story when Germany was the big elephant to worry about.

It’s amazing to me as to what passes for “backwater” stories these days. Yet, it demonstrates our own political and cultural biases.

Because of our political and theological biases, Israel and Gaza have become the story. It is NOT insignificant that nearly 2000 Palestinians and hundreds of Israelis have lost their lives. Not by a long shot.

But I have come to believe it is the smokescreen. IT is the “backwater” story, but we’ve made it center stage.

The “backwater” story we never pay attention to is Syria and the Islamist group ISIS. And while we haven’t paid attention to this “tiny” story, millions have been displaced and thousands of Christians and other “opposition” religious groups have been slaughtered. Israel and Gaza raise such passionate debates and arguments, we’ve hardly given a look to Syria. In fact, when it may have been we were starting to pay attention, THAT is when Gaza blew up. (I’m just a conspiracy theorist at heart… and it’s my blog.)

While we have relegated passages like Matthew 24 to the “end times” (and somehow only to American Christians), brothers and sisters in Christ are living this today. 

Observe:

The Chaldean-Assyrian Christians, Maronites, Melkites and Copts are also being “butchered under the banner of ‘There is no God but Allah'”. They, too, are fleeing into the mountains for refuge, as Christ exhorted at the time of the end. They, too, are being reviled, persecuted, and their children murdered. But we’re not hearing an awful lot about it.

More HERE.

It is hard for me to fathom, as a Christian, that we have cared so little about Christians in Syria and Iraq. It just doesn’t hit our radar. But the moment Israel comes into the conversation… BAM! We rant and rage and defend and attack…

There has been a civil war raging for quite some time all over the world… and we’ve virtually ignored it. And radical groups are counting on us to keep ignoring it. Rant all we want about Israel and Gaza… it just keeps us pre-occupied, and they get to keep on killing.

Arabic N

Random Weekend Thoughts

We had a fast and furious trip to Duluth to see our son in the musical “Pippin.” As I drive I have a lot of thoughts tumble through, none of which I can remember for very long. To develop them is a lot of fun… but maybe for another time… and privately.

Some thoughts along the way:

— We heard the news of the Malaysia Airlines flight being shot down, then of Israel invading Gaza. In the midst of all that I thought of an extended novel idea regarding the two Malaysian flights that have gone down this year. A rather good spy novel I know nothing about, so I’m sure Nelson DeMille will figure out something and really do it justice.

— On Russia, and the Middle East affair, what if the world just quit doing business in those areas? Just. Stopped. Not out of hatred for one side or another, but out of CONCERN for all involved. Let the world give these regions a “time out” by feeling a nice economic punch. FIFA needs to step up and do something moral for the first time in their existence: Threaten to take the World Cup elsewhere in four years. Long shots all, but drive time gives me a lot of time to think stupid crazy thoughts.

— Pippin is an amazing musical, at least the adaptation my son’s group did. It is a great morality play that finally lets people know they want to chase crazy dreams when normal may just be okay. We too often play to the edge and forget that Christ wants to take us to the center. Finding Christ the Center, we will understand how Christ was so attractive to the edges… and he drew them in to him. He didn’t leave them “out there.” Normal is okay, folks.

— Driving home was the best of all. There was a stretch of road where I reflected on three incredible sons, an amazing wife, the tremendous blessings amid the tremendous challenges… and I realized it is well with my soul.

Amazing blessings all.

Learning to weep with those weep

I  will never have the whole Middle East thing figured out. (That will disappoint many conservative friends… and that’s just the way it is.)

My heart breaks with the news I hear, the posts I read from missionaries, the posts I read from the churches in those areas. Rather than identify with those suffering, we are far too quick to pick sides and thump our political or theological chests to declare who is REALLY right.

I came across a poem today from one who has worked in Gaza and it is becoming my prayer. The post is worth reading as well.

Cry with us
This is a season of weeping and mourning, but it is not void of hope.
Our tears are the bridge between brutality and humanity;
our tears are the salty gates for seeing a different reality;
our tears are facing soulless nations and a parched mentality;
our tears are the dam preventing rivers of animosity.
For the sake of the mourning men, cry with us to reflect your amity.
For the sake of the poor children, cry with us demanding sanity.
For the sake of lamenting mothers, refuse violence and stupidity.
Love your enemies and cry with them is the advice of divinity.
Bless those who curse is the path to genuine spirituality.
Pour tears of mercy; compassion is true piety.
Pray with tears, for the sake of spreading equity.
Followers of Jesus: crying is now our responsibility.
But don’t cry for your friends only;
but also for your Enemy. — Yohanna Katanacho

The place of knowing God

“He made know his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel.” (Ps. 103:7, NIV)

The saying goes something like this: There are three types of people in this world: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened.

This verse in Psalm 103 is a similar comparison. When God made known his ways to Moses, he was letting Moses in on the “why.” When Israel saw the deeds of God in action, they know the “what.”

The place of knowing God is found here. We can sit back and be familiar with God and see what happened. Or, we can climb the mountain and BE with God and know why something is happening. We need this place of intimacy with God and it is a lifelong journey cultivated by prayer.

 

The Lesson of the Underwear

These are days when I am fascinated by English translations and wish I knew Hebrew. (And I know at least TWO comments I will get on that statement alone.)

Jeremiah is part of our Lenten reading and the symbolic things Jeremiah had to do were… um… interesting.

This one from Jeremiah 13 is really interesting.

First, the “polite” version:

This is what the Lord said to me: “Go and buy a linen belt and put it around your waist, but do not let it touch water.” So I bought a belt, as the Lord directed, and put it around my waist. (Jer. 13:1-2, NIV)

Now, the “interesting” versions:

The Lord said to me, “Go and buy some linen shorts and put them on. Do not put them in water.” So I bought the shorts as the Lord had told me to do and put them on. (NET Bible)

The Lord proclaimed to me: Go and buy a linen undergarment. Wear it for a while without washing it. So I bought a linen undergarment, as the Lord told me, and I put it on. (CEB)

So… the big question here is obvious… but I’m not going to do it. I just can’t. I thought long and hard and I’m NOT going to ask THAT question… 😉

“Loincloth” seems to be a better way to put it (as does the ESV and NRSV). It was worn next to the body.

The instruction of Jeremiah was to put it under a rock. Don’t wash it. Bury it. Obviously, when the Lord tells him to go get it back, it’s ruined.

A garment that was meant to be worn close to the body was no longer useful. This is the lesson of the underwear. This was Israel. They had gone their own way, had not let themselves be washed by the presence of God, and had instead allowed themselves to be soiled and ruined by their own choices. They could no longer be kept close to God.

“They will become like this linen garment — good for nothing!” (Jer. 13:10b, CEB, emphasis added)

In this season, allow the Spirit to wash you. Don’t allow the junk of this life to so overwhelm you that you become useless to the King. The Kingdom is about obedience, not just mental acumen. Follow him. Cling to him. Literally.

Israel, Palestine, and an Effort Toward a True Pro-Life Ethic

I began some thoughts on what it means to have a “pro-life” ethic (HERE), and on that same day the United Nations voted to allow provisional recognition of Palestine as a “state.” This came over the loud objections of the United States and Israel.

This is a perfect areas to try and hash out a true “pro-life” ethic. It’s a messy situation. As a Christian growing up in a very conservative home, I was always taught to be “pro-Israel” (as a geo-political nation) no matter what. As I grew older I realized the complexities of that position.

Jonathan Martin has written an excellent piece on the issue of Palestine, Israel, and being Christian HERE. It’s an article to disagree over, to be sure. I hope there IS discussion over this issue.

But the larger ethic of being radically pro-life stands out to me as Jonathan wrote this sentence:

5.  Loving people on both sides of this conflict does not make a person “anti-Israel” much less anti-Semitic.

THIS is the place I am trying to get to in my pro-life ethic. To be radically pro-life means you reach beyond the political arguments to actually see people, and realize bringing Kingdom blessing to people takes us beyond political posturing.

This is a loaded issue among conservative Christians, and at this point I am hoping there is enough disagreement to actually cause a discussion. My point is we need to work more toward a true pro-life ethic rather than just becoming more entrenched in past political positions. We need to think. 

Source: Carnegie Council