Believing in hell

There are days I want to believe in a hotter hell for those who perform such cowardly acts as killing school children in Pakistan.

No matter what my theology may finally find to be true, today there is weeping.

A voice is heard in Ramah,
    lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
    she refuses to be comforted for her children,
    because they are no more. (Jer. 31:15)

Ancient Paths are So Cutting Edge

The Lord proclaims:
Stop at the crossroads and look around;
    ask for the ancient paths.
    Where is the good way?
Then walk in it
    and find a resting place for yourselves.
        But you said, “We won’t go!” (Jer. 6:16)

Ancient paths really aren’t so “cutting edge.” It’s the invitation of God. When someone under 40 mentions them, then they seem so “cutting edge,” but the realization is those paths have been there. 

They don’t “shout out” to us. They are there with the invitation from God. 

It is a call to return. It’s not that hard. It’s rather simple. 

We just want our “own path.” We want our “own rhythm.” 

What we need is the rhythm of the Kingdom. We need to quit being stubborn and refusing the ancient path marked out for us. 

Jeremiah and the broken heart

I grew up with the phrase describing Jeremiah as “the weeping prophet.”

As I read through this powerful book once again, I find myself in a place of feeling that heart break.

“Long ago I broke the yoke that oppressed you
and tore away the chains of your slavery,
but still you said,
‘I will not serve you.’
On every hill and under every green tree,
you have prostituted yourselves by bowing down to idols. (Jer. 2:20)

God did the very best for Israel and they continually sought other lovers. I pray for my own life, the church today, and how we have become so efficient in what we do, but are we drawing from the the living fountain God gives us, or are we using our own broken cisterns?

We need a fresh call in our spirits to return to the God of our first love.

Prophesying False Hope

Pick the hot social issue of the day. Pick the hot button issue of any type in our current time.

Think of the rhetoric you hear on blogs and other forms of media.

On any issue, no matter the “side,” more often than not you will hear opinion. Sometimes, as Christians, it may have some sense of “biblical” formation. Yet, more often than not, the opinions offered will be more along the lines of “I had this happen to me, or to someone close to me, so I am changing my view from ‘A’ to ‘B’.”

When it comes to Christians offering opinions and views, that is the case as well.

What rarely happens is someone saying anything about prayer and hearing the word of the Lord more clearly.

Too often we are prophesying false hope.

Too little of our opinion is coming out of prayer and hearing more clearly the word of God and too much is coming out of the other experiences we have around us. It doesn’t matter the “side.”

We are not people of prayer any more. We are people of opinions. And in the process we may be prophesying false hope.

18 But who has stood in the Lord’s council
to listen to God’s word?
Who has paid attention to his word and announced it? (Jer. 23:18, CEB)

I know this idea runs the risk of having someone get up and just saying, “Thus saith the Lord!”

But, as always, shouting “Thus saith the Lord!” doesn’t mean the Lord saith it.

We, as the people of God, need to be standing more in the Lord’s council, begging for HIS view. We need to spend more time with our ears open to HIS word, rather than the words of others we LIKE to hear…

And when we truly hear his word… announce it. Proclaim it. With boldness. Without fear.

But until we get back to standing in the council of the Lord, we may just be prophesying false hope.

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.

When the Word of God is Offensive… We’re in Trouble

10 To whom can I speak and give warning?
Who will listen to me?
Their ears are closed
so they cannot hear.
The word of the Lord is offensive to them;
they find no pleasure in it. (Jer. 5:10, NIV)

When we quit listening to the Word of God because we don’t find it “to our taste,” we’re in trouble. We’re looking for pleasure in the Word when we need to be looking for truth. We need to hunger for the truth of the Kingdom and obedience to the Living Word.

We may very well be in trouble.