A Perspective of Fire

Father, let us never forget Your presence & the wrath we have been rescued from through Jesus. Let us remember the consequence of hell that we once deserved, and the weight of our sin that He bore on the cross. May we walk in repentance, and also walk in joy, liberated from death and from ourselves. Your grace is greater than all our sin, Your love is deeper than the pit we were rescued from. May we praise Your Name forever, remembering Your holiness, mercy & grace with deep appreciation, thanksgiving & celebration! You are our joy! Amen!

Hebrews 12:12-29
12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.

18 For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest 19 and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. 20 For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” 21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.”

22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

25 See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.

God has given us so many visuals over the course of human history to help us understand and cope with the concept of Him & His holiness. He has taken every effort to help us hear, see & understand His nature, His righteousness, His wrath & His justice. And the wonder of it all is that He didn’t just tell us made up stories, but that He actually has done these things, in close proximity to humankind so that we can see and feel and hear and experience Him & His presence.

Hopefully, we have all had opportunities to be in places and experience times where we know we have been in the presence of God. And while there may not have been a burning mountain top to commemorate the experience, His whisper & still small voice of direction & discernment can be just as revalatory, just as powerful as His large displays of power & majesty.

It is very important that we do not forget those moments where He has spoken to us, that they do not become pieces of history, stories to recall in conversations alone. But we need to live in that remembrance. That is why God’s children have repeated these accounts daily & weekly for millennia, to keep them fresh upon our hearts. God gives us these moments, locked in present memory so we never forget the burning mountain top where the Law was given and so we do not forget the bloodied mountain top where grace was poured out on the cross.

Through these remembrances, we find ourselves inexorably intertwined with the tapestry of His story, woven into a living memory of Him. We see Mt Sinai & we see Mt Zion and we remember them in our own hearts, as if we were there. This is our heritage. This is our faith. We live in a perspective of fire & blood so that we may also live with a perspective of hope, wisdom & mercy given so richly for us who are not worthy of such affection. Living in the rhythms of this grace helps us, reminds us to speak the same mercy, love, grace and wisdom over those who stand apart from Him. This perspective draws our hearts in as living memorials to His faithfulness & righteousness.

Memorials are meant to be revisited, experienced and shown off. These memorials are our doorway to celebration, thanksgiving & mission. Every tribe, every tongue, every nation gathered in celebration, sharing in the abundant love of Christ, equals at the foot of the cross, in life, in faith & in mission to those who have not yet seen, to those who have not yet heard. We are celebrants of hope, living memorials of His loving-kindness.

Father, let us never forget Your presence & the wrath we have been rescued from through Jesus. Let us remember the consequence of hell that we once deserved, and the weight of our sin that He bore on the cross. May we walk in repentance, and also walk in joy, liberated from death and from ourselves. Your grace is greater than all our sin, Your love is deeper than the pit we were rescued from. May we praise Your Name forever, remembering Your holiness, mercy & grace with deep appreciation, thanksgiving & celebration! You are our joy! Amen!


Mark 1:9-13 // The Spirit Confirms and Compels

“9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. 10 As soon as He came up out of the water, He saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending to Him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven:

“You are My beloved Son;
I take delight in You!”

12 Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness 40 days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and the angels began to serve Him.”
Mark 1:9-13 HCSB

I am bothered when I see the Holy Spirit being ‘used’ by ministers and churches as if it is their servant, at their beck and call. They treat Him as if He is something less than God, something they can command and direct. Scheduled times for ‘healing services’ and giving commands to the Spirit when they pray. Their treatment of the Spirit is repugnant and disturbing and full of pride. There is a lack of reverence and respect shown and it is no wonder that many times it is the psychosomatic response being seen and not real lasting healing.

Does the Holy Spirit move to heal? Absolutely. I have seen it happen many times. I love to hear doctors get confused when bodies full of cancer are suddenly clean and clear. I have seen birth defects healed, lives changed and people bought to restoration by the work of the Holy Spirit. He definitely moves and does so with all the power God offers to His people. But we cannot treat the Holy Spirit like He is ours to command or compel. Instead, we need to look and be refreshed as to what His role within the Trinity really is.

God is mystery, and His Holy Spirit is probably the most mysterious part of His nature because He is so multifaceted. It is also difficult to describe the parts of the Trinity without wandering into heresies because of our limited understanding and ability to understand and describe our infinite God. But I usually tell people to look at Genesis 1. God the Father is the will, The Son is the spoken word and the Holy Spirit is the movement to bring things into being. So the Father desired light, and the Son spoke that desire and Holy Spirit made it happen. And that, though simple, is an incomplete description that can lead to inaccurate understanding. So again, I do not like to describe the roles and hows and say that it is better to simply say that the nature of the Trinity is mystery.

The Holy Spirit is just as much God as Jesus is who is equal in nature to the Father. We cannot act like He is subordinate to us, but rather look to Jesus’ example here in Mark 1. The Spirit interacts with Him at His baptism to help us see and learn and understand. Jesus didn’t need the Spirit to be added to Himself, it didn’t change who He was in that moment. Instead, it was for His encouragement and our benefit to see this happen.

The Spirit then drove Him into the wilderness, but its not as if Jesus lacked the understanding that this is what needed to happen. Jesus’ interactions with the Spirit are not going to be identical to ours because it is the Trinity interacting within Himself. God does not need to petition Himself, but we do. It is valuable to see how God works, but we cannot presume to be privy to that process or to have the authority to tell Him what to do and when. Instead, we understand that God speaks to us and compels us and moves us, His redeemed children.

We learn and know our places, seeing that He is in control of us, not us of Him. Does He listen to the cry of His children? Certainly! Does He hear our concerns and desires? Of course He does! He guides us and cares for us as we GoLove people according to His desire, but He tells us how it is to be done, not the other way around. Sometimes our desires do not line up with His, and we need to be okay with it when He says ‘No.’ even if it is in regard to healing or something that we see as beneficial and good. He still has a greater plan than we can see, and it is up to Him to decide how He will move. Jesus showed submission to the Holy Spirit’s leading, and we should take that example from our Master seriously as we think about God working in us and through us to glorify Himself.

Numbers 29 // Assembling the sacred

“1 You are to hold a sacred assembly in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, and you are not to do any daily work. This will be a day of joyful shouting for you. 2 Offer a burnt offering as a pleasing aroma to the Lord: one young bull, one ram, seven male lambs a year old — all unblemished — 3 with their grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil, six quarts with the bull, four quarts with the ram, 4 and two quarts with each of the seven male lambs. 5 Also offer one male goat as a sin offering to make atonement for yourselves. 6 These are in addition to the monthly and regular burnt offerings with their prescribed grain offerings and drink offerings. They are a pleasing aroma, a fire offering to the Lord.”
Numbers 29:1-6

There’s not a lot of room for the sacred in our culture. We like to keep things moving, keep things rolling and we like to keep everything on a pretty level playing field. We like to hold things as being of equal importance, equal investment, so that we don’t feel bad if our priorities get shuffled around and rearranged.

If we can keep God on the same level as school/work or sports or a hobby, then we can feel like we haven’t done anything major if we miss out on our time with Him one day or weekend. We give Him priority, sure, but no different than we would afford to anything else we view an ‘extra’ in life. Big game on television? God can take the backseat, and we skip church. Lots to do on your schedule? Just acknowledge God as you listen to a little Christian music while you drive around, and tell yourself that you had ‘church’ because you thought about Him a little. We make excuses like this all the time. “I’m tired. I had a lot to do yesterday.” or “This is my only morning to sleep in.” or some such nonsense that we use to push down the feelings of guilt or conviction.

By eliminating the sacred, there is no need to feel guilty. By relegating God to the same level as a hobby, then we can do whatever we want. And so we subjugate God to our whims and wills rather than being accountable for even a moment, and being forced to consider ourselves and evaluate what we actually believe over what we say we believe. The proof is in the pudding, as it were. We must acknowledge the sacred, we must give God proper due, respect and honor. We cannot make Him like some created thing. That leads to the tragedy of Romans 1:

“24 Therefore God delivered them over in the cravings of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen.”

We must treat the Holy as holy and the Sacred as sacred. It cannot be base, ‘normal’ or ‘regular’ and still be holy. Museum pieces belong in museums, shoes belong on feet, and God belongs on His throne. He does not cater to us, we bow to Him. As we GoLove others in the Name of Christ, we must hold it up, respecting His Lordship and submitting to His reign.

Numbers 4 // Reverence & The Ministry of Believers

“46 Moses, Aaron, and the leaders of Israel registered all the Levites by their clans and their ancestral houses, 47 from 30 years old to 50 years old, everyone who was qualified to do the work of serving at the tent of meeting and transporting it. 48 Their registered men numbered 8,580. 49 At the Lords command they were registered under the direction of Moses, each one according to his work and transportation duty, and his assignment was as the Lord commanded Moses.”
Numbers 4:46-49

Numbers 4 sees the Levite clan divided up into their jobs an responsibilities with the set up and care of the Tabernacle. During this point in the history of Israel, the people needed to be ready to move and go wherever God directed them, and that meant the camp physically packed up and moved, including the Tabernacle. All the holy items dedicated for the worship of God were packed up, very carefully, and carried in the procession of the people to whatever new place God had designated for them. This was no small task, moving several million people around, but more so than family tents and possessions, the careful and respectful movement of the Tabernacle of God was of first priority.

The Levitical clans were counted, divided up and given specific tasks to do in the movement and security of the Tabernacle and its holy elements. Special coverings were made for the transportation of the Ark of the Covenant, and all the furniture of the Holy Place and Most Holy Place. Kept from eyes that could not look upon them and live, these elements of the Israelite worship of YHWH were precious things, sacred and not to be treated lightly.

As Christians today, we could learn a little bit about reverence for God from these passages. This is the same God we serve today. The same Almighty Father and Creator of the universe that we reverence and respect in our worship today. When we come before Him each week corporately, do we esteem Him in this way? When we speak with Him daily, do we give Him the honor He is due? Do we have a holy fear, awe and respect for God, or do we treat Him like some common thing, familiar as the furniture in our own homes?

I fear sometimes that our relationship with God has become too casual, too convenient. Yes, we are to be close with Him, yes we are to be open and intimate with Him, but closeness, openness and intimacy does not equate to an ‘allowable’ disrespect, or declining respect. If we are to take our ministry as believers seriously, we need to hold God in the utmost respect in our hearts and lives. We must relearn what ‘Holy’ means reengage with Him honestly and treat this privilege with the honor it is due.

Paul puts it this way in 2 Corinthians 4:1-6:

“1 Therefore, since we have this ministry because we were shown mercy, we do not give up. 2 Instead, we have renounced shameful secret things, not walking in deceit or distorting Gods message, but commending ourselves to every persons conscience in Gods sight by an open display of the truth. 3 But if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves because of Jesus. 6 For God who said, Let light shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of Gods glory in the face of Jesus Christ.”

The world, in its sinfulness, sees no need to revere God, and this is no suprise, because they are in sin. But as we GoLove others in His Name, we must make it abundantly clear that this is no common god we serve, but El Shaddai, YHWH Elohim. We do not even speak His Name lightly, let alone serve Him lightly. If we are going to communicate the goodness of God to the nations, we ought also communicate reverence for Him as well. He is worthy of praise, but He is also worthy of our esteem, respect and sincerity. We do not worship Him passively, but intently, purposefully and honestly. We revere and respect Him, and the respect that we show Him in our daily ministry before Him will translate through our actions and into the understanding of those around us. The ministry of the believer is important, but it means nothing if we do not respect the One we minister before.

Psalm 33 // Remember Who He is, Whom you serve

Acknowledging just who God is draws our hearts into a properly reverent place. Remembering that He does not fit into any box we may make for Him helps us to see just how awesome and mighty He really is. Daring to glance His way, turning our hearts toward Him forces us to admit just how amazing He is and it places our convictions squarely in the acknowledgement of the authority that only He brings.

Read the words of David slowly and acknowledge that what He says of God is true:

“1 Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous ones;
praise from the upright is beautiful.
Praise the Lord with the lyre;
make music to Him with a ten-stringed harp.
Sing a new song to Him;
play skillfully on the strings, with a joyful shout.

For the word of the Lord is right,
and all His work is trustworthy.
He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the Lord’s unfailing love.

The heavens were made by the word of the Lord,
and all the stars, by the breath of His mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea into a heap;
He puts the depths into storehouses.
Let the whole earth tremble before the Lord;
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
For He spoke, and it came into being;
He commanded, and it came into existence.

10 The Lord frustrates the counsel of the nations;
He thwarts the plans of the peoples.
11 The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
the plans of His heart from generation to generation.
12 Happy is the nation whose God is Yahweh—
the people He has chosen to be His own possession!

13 The Lord looks down from heaven;
He observes everyone.
14 He gazes on all the inhabitants of the earth
from His dwelling place.
15 He alone shapes their hearts;
He considers all their works.
16 A king is not saved by a large army;
a warrior will not be delivered by great strength.
17 The horse is a false hope for safety;
it provides no escape by its great power.

18 Now the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him—
those who depend on His faithful love
19 to deliver them from death
and to keep them alive in famine.

20 We wait for Yahweh;
He is our help and shield.
21 For our hearts rejoice in Him
because we trust in His holy name.
22 May Your faithful love rest on us, Yahweh,
for we put our hope in You.

ignoring the train

another unmarked journal entry:

kids may not sleep the night before Christmas. we may be excited and find it difficult to got o work the day before a vacation. there are a myriad of things that people get worked up about, things that excite them…but Judgment Day gets swept under the rug.

thankfully, God can dispose of this if we accept Jesus into our hearts

it’s really no surprise that we act that way. no one wants the depths of their soul exposed. there’s too much embarrassing filth piled up in there. but what we fail to realize is that everyone else has a heap all their own that probably looks a lot like ours. we, as individuals, are not unique in our sins, our friends, family & neighbors all have things that they deal with on a day-to-day basis, just like we do…

there is also a reverence for God that is missing from our lives, a sense of awe that is completely lacking. we want to feel like we are in control, or that our lives are something we can deal with on our own. but instead, we must acknowledge the sovereignty of God with all the respect, honor and attention that He is due. Turning a blind eye won’t keep it from coming…just like plugging your ears and covering your eyes  doesn’t keep a train from barreling down the tracks towards you.

ignoring it doesn't change anything