RSS

Tag Archives: Isaiah

Truth with Grace

DisciplesThis day, Gentle Reader, I’m going to do something a bit radical, a bit different. This will be a precipitous plummet from the unspeakably, incomprehensibly,  sublimely, divine… into the unbelievably mundane and concrete.

“The Word of God”

Just that phrase… alone… In the beginning was the Word… Then God said, “Let there be light…” Upholds all things by the word of His power…

So many… so many references to words. And what are we? What are we doing here? What are we called, expected, commanded to do here? What is our nature, our potency, our purpose?

There was a day, shortly after my own ordination, where somehow God came to me in that “fullness of majesty” form. I was set to trembling, not with fear… oh, it’s so hard to find a “right word” for this. But sometimes, He can come so clothed… so robed in His power and might…. that my “insides” just tremble, like when a booming bass drum passes me at a parade. An Isaiah 6 moment, I call these…

Look there… Look at Isaiah 6 for a moment… just up to the words, “here am I, send me!”

Binding, loosing… blessing, cursing… into the mouth, out of the mouth from the heart come words… over and over, Jesus and scripture proclaim the power intertwined with words spoken into the universe.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Power, faith, will, time and space are all woven into our use of words.

You could spend a month, even a year, even more… pondering such things and still not fully plumb their depths.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Ordained to the Gospel Ministry”… that’s what the paper said. And suddenly, terribly, all this struck me with the force of a tidal wave. How could I DO this? How could I DARE this? How could I so presume? Minister, servant, messanger… of, to, and for the Word of God… Jesus. I was frozen, deer trapped in headlights paralyzed. I daren’t move, daren’t speak.

How could I ever dare to speak? Had my lips been cleansed? Perhaps so… but… but… I sully them so easily. My heart is frail and fallen, so my words.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Been there? Know these moments? I was struck with the ridiculous notion that now that I was fully equipped, empowered, and commissioned to do precisely what I’d been prepared for since childhood… only now, in this moment, did I feel fully the sense of my own inadequacy to do so.

On my own, from my own head, from my own heart… the words that came would often be those best left unspoken. And yet… my role in Kingdom was to be a “voice in the wilderness”, a voice available for Jesus to speak grace into the moments and connections of my relationships, the universe He crafts around my own timeline.

Been there?

I know you have, in some way, to some extent, some time or other. The Book of James, if nothing else, readily brings such questions to mind.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

OK, there’s all that sublime and cosmic.

There’s the challenge brought by James the Apostle.

There’s (at least) my own sense of utter incapacity to surmount his challenge.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So here’s the unspeakably mundane and simple…

If you, like I, struggle with “taming the tongue” and refraining from ever wounding another with words… try this…

Try to speak only what Jesus said, or WOULD say in public.

Can we not bear with that 24/7? Well perhaps try for one morning, or afternoon, at work. Or one session at Church. Or one hour at home over dinner.

One hour too long? (It has been for me!)

OK, try a half an hour, or ten minutes at a time. Try it for one phone call at a time.

Simple resolution: I will not speak words that Jesus did not, or would not speak publicly.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

You have no idea how challenging this simple resolution is… or the extent to which it will constantly pull you into His mind, as you devote to Him your voice.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Do I succeed all the time!? LOL! Heaven’s no! I have my days, weeks, hours… my frailties, faults, and failures aplenty, yes. But the effort itself is pleasing to Him and draws more grace to your heart than otherwise. AND, this is a transforming exercise that takes this wildly ethereal and brings it nitty-gritty concrete and within our grasp.

Pray for me, Gentle Reader! So a work in progress. Grace to thee — The Little Monk

 
5 Comments

Posted by on January 27, 2015 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Whose What???!!!

5 “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

“Pray, then, in this way:

‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 ‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]

14 For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” [Matthew 6]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We all recognize these words, Gentle Reader, don’t we? These are Jesus’ teaching from the middle of Sermon on the Mount, when, at the beginning of His public ministry, Our Lord was in the process of detonating what must have seemed like a Theological Nuclear Device in the middle of a multitude of listeners.

I invite you to take just a moment and leave our Christian lives, knowledge, background… and imagine yourself THERE instead. I mean, the whole Sermon on the Mount is almost inconceivable from that view. It is so easy for us to take it all for granted. We’ve “heard this all our lives” so to speak. But not THEM! Not THERE! The “God they knew”… was nothing LIKE the “God we know”!

THEY knew the terrifying, deadly God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They knew the destructive God of Exodus. They knew the bloodthirsty God of Aaron and Abraham. They knew the Destroyer God of Sodom and Gomorrah. They knew the vindictive God of Ezekiel and Elijah. They had HEARD of a tender, compassionate God… from David… sometimes. The PREDICTED Messiah, from Isaiah. But the God they KNEW was the legalistic, retributive God of the Babylonian captivity… and now, the Roman captivity of God’s Own City itself!

God spoke through Prophets… but that often did not go well. God spoke through the Law… but that assuredly was not going well. God spoke through Temple Worship, and Study of the Torah. By keeping the Law, performing the right acts of religious obedience (tithing, sabbath, worship)… one could MOLLIFY this Dangerous God, and preserve oneself from doom, curse, and destruction.

So we… were we there… would be waiting… fearfully hoping… for the Promise to be Fulfilled… for the long awaited Messiah… the Savior promised by Isaiah… to come! We are the People of God! God’s Chosen People! And we pray, sacrifice, live according to over 600 laws in obedience to Holy God? And WHY DO WE DO THIS??? Because we have learned, both through the scriptures that are read to us endlessly… through the history of our people… through the preaching of our religious leaders… that if we DON’T… we are REBELLIOUS… and GOD is likely to DESTROY US!!! … AGAIN!!!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

As Jesus took me this morning, to the hillside where He revealed the Truth in Sermon on the Mount, for the very first time, ever… He showed me all this. He let my heart and my mind be freed of my 20th/21st century knowledge of God. I could “see” as a listener that day could see, with only the Law, the Prophets, and the history to guide my relationship with God… and He let me “hear with their ears” that day.

As I seemed to stand there, on that hillside… I realized, given all this, how desperately I yearned for the coming of that Promised Messiah. I felt how deeply I hoped for the Promised Savior of Isaiah. I needed His rescue! I needed His compassion! I needed His authority and protection! But… in my heart… I needed Him to save and protect me NOT from the Romans, or the Babylonians, or the Philistines, or the Assyrians, or the Egyptians…. Not at all. Like the people who cowered in terror when Moses and God let the people hear God’s voice on Mt. Sinai so long ago… I felt I needed the Messiah’s protection, from GOD HIMSELF!

I invite you there, Gentle Reader. I invite you onto that hillside with me. I invite you to forget… for just this one fleeting moment… everything you now KNOW about God and grace. Imagine that you are one of God’s Chosen People, bound with Him in the Covenant of Abraham… inescapable, unattainable, unfulfillable… and, as Paul said, “it is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31] And, we LIVE in those hands. We eat, sleep, BREATHE in those hands. We cannot ESCAPE those hands! I truly cannot imagine, for more than the briefest of moments, what it would be like to live in such fear.

NOW, Gentle Reader! Now, if we’ve managed to catch even the barest glimpse of what such a heart would be… NOW let Jesus enter the scene. Now, look again, with fresh new eyes and ears, on the Sermon on the Mount!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Beyond all else… imagine what it would be like to hear Jesus, after seeing sufficient signs and wonders to KNOW that He speaks with the authority and blessing of Almighty God… imagine what it would mean to hear Him say:

“Pray, then, in this way:

‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 ‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] [Matthew 6]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In the next few posts, we’re going to look at the Lord’s Prayer. Over the past six weeks or so, God has been unfolding it before me slowly, carefully, gradually… like watching a Rose unfurl petal by petal. I would like to share that little journey with you… not to “teach” it…. not to imply that we should “dissect this rose”, and “analyze it”, or “squeeze all its juices out” to distill for some compound or perfume. None of that. Any of that, and the Rose is destroyed.

No, Gentle Reader. And I don’t even want to measure, weigh, or photograph this Rose. I don’t want to try to “communicate” this Rose… in my way… as my experience… to you so that you have the SAME experience. But rather I want to “show you a Rose” as it has bloomed and taken my breath away, in MY garden, MY backyard… in hopes that you will pull on a sweater and go out into YOUR garden, and see if the Lord has planted such a rose there for you.

Together, let us “listen to our Roses”. Let that Rose raise its voice to God in praise. Let us still ourselves to hear the song it sings. Let us enjoy that hymn of worship and praise, and see if, in the listening, we are changed. Harmony, somehow, seems always to change us.

Grace to thee, Gentle Reader! I believe there’s a Rose singing to you and Him somewhere…

 
3 Comments

Posted by on January 18, 2014 in Quiet Time, Sermon Seeds, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: