The need to come away

It’s only been a little over a week since leaving Heights Church. The time “away” has been quickly filled with prepping for my last semester of teaching. But there is also the need to pull away, read, and listen. My practice through my life has been to engage Scripture as I pray. The Lord leads me through that process.  Continue reading “The need to come away”

The challenge of holiness

Working our way through our Multiply material this week, our small group has come to a sobering conclusion: God really wants our FULL attention when we come to him. He has given us ALL of himself… so we need to take the care necessary to approach a HOLY God with reverence, with attention, with deep awe and respect. He is so worth it. 

15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. (Heb. 9:15)

Lord, I take worship too lightly. I am so concerned about time… weather… temperature… sound volume… I take so little care to ask, “Lord, do I come ready?” Forgive me, Lord. Set my heart on you. For your glory. Amen. 

Holiness… that’s a thing, right?

This week’s reading for our MULTIPLY discipleship is on “Sacrifice and Atonement.” Scripture reading takes us briefly through some chapters in Leviticus.

Leviticus 19 sticks out. It is a call that has been with Israel and still comes to the people of God today… or should. (We’re just not very good at it at times.)

Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.’ (Lev. 19:2)

Holiness was a code when I was growing up. It was how you looked. It was what you didn’t watch, places you didn’t go, things you didn’t smoke or drink, etc. Outward codes. When we read Leviticus, it’s fairly easy to get that initial impression.

That impression leads probably every one of us as believers to push the line on those “codes” at times. We think we’re being “rebellious” or maybe even “truly spiritual” or some other excuse. We’ve pushed some visible boundary and, lo and behold, we have not experienced fire from heaven, or the ground opening up and devouring us!

Holiness has never been just about the outward. The outward may look different at times… but for an inward reason.

Holiness is about “otherness” or “distinctiveness.” It is about something separate from the ordinary or the common.

Here is what I find interesting at this particular point: We are inundated in our culture with the different and we are almost commanded to acknowledge and “affirm” the different, yet when the Church talks about being “different”… we raise all kinds of objections and all of a sudden we want to be “common.” Go figure.

Human nature.

Holiness is about being set apart and there are times that may look different. God is the One who is truly “wholly other” so our call is to heed HIS direction. That may look different from time to time. Behavior may be different.

Holiness is about desire. God is wholly other… and he calls me to himself. Do I desire to listen to that command, or do I desire to keep being absorbed into what I know?

It is, without a doubt, a choice. It is a call. It is an invitation. But if I am to be with God I am called to HIS standards… and that means a choice. Do I desire HIM above all other desires in my life? Am I willing to lay all my life on the table before him so HE gets to make the call? If I am not willing, or if I am making excuses, then I am NOT “set apart” and he is NOT my God. It’s that simple.

It is PAINFUL to think of this, which is why we have moved away from words like “holiness” and “sacrifice” and “atonement.” We crave normalcy… and God calls us to a new normal.

Yet, this is the crux of where we are in discipleship. All that has come before in MULTIPLY has led us to this point. All that will follow has to flow from this foundation.

Am I set apart for God or not?

The call really is to live differently

I am working my way through Leviticus… intentionally…

Leviticus 18-20 and 1 Peter 1 offer similar exhortations: Where you are headed and how you succeed depends on the relationship you have with God. Live differently. You do NOT have to live like the people in that land.

What 1 Peter reminds us in a very sober way is that although we haven’t physically picked up and moved to a different “land,” when we follow Christ, we have moved allegiances.

The call really is to live differently. Our salvation is precious. Our Lord is precious. His call is real. Why ignore it?

13 Therefore, once you have your minds ready for action and you are thinking clearly, place your hope completely on the grace that will be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14 Don’t be conformed to your former desires, those that shaped you when you were ignorant. But, as obedient children, 15 you must be holy in every aspect of your lives, just as the one who called you is holy. 16 It is written, You will be holy, because I am holy. 17 Since you call upon a Father who judges all people according to their actions without favoritism, you should conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your dwelling in a strange land. (1 Pet. 1:13-17)