What do you see?

"Your eye is a lamp for your body. A pure eye lets sunshine into your soul. But an evil eye shuts out the light and plunges you into darkness. If the light you think you have is really darkness, how deep that darkness will be!

Matthew 6:22-23

How do you see things? How do you see it? As you observe, what's your "take" on this? What do you see? The way we see makes a difference in how we see. How we see is governed by our hearts.

In the Neareastern tradition, there was something called the evil eye. The evil eye saw everything through avarice, covetousness. Things have not changed much today. We still can struggle with feeling "less than" and feeling that what will make us happy is outside of us. I say to myself, "if I only had what he has, I would be happier", and then "I want what he has... it's not right that he has it and I don't". And on it goes until I am negative in how I see things through this lense of narcissistic impoverishment.

It's a trap. This kind of seeing only makes things worse. It is a dark tunnel.

The good eye, good sight, is generous. God is generous in how He sees. God in me helps me to have a generous outlook: generous towards others and generous towards myself. It's also a grace-based outloook: gracious towards others and gracious towards myself.

Godly sight does not ignore evil or injustice, but is completly truthful about it, seeing it all, without bitterness or resentment.

I'm going to see generously and walk under a generous God.

Worship wars

I read 3 articles about worship music today. One person who's opinion I highly respect said that there's been no new music for a really long time, that it's just copies of copies of copies. He said there's a real void right now, but that he believes that God is about to birth a new sound.

Another part of the issue is that it kind of makes sense that your style of music will determine who you attract. I had one African American teacher at Fuller and he commented that he understood that people were really enjoying the Vineyard music that swept through the church, but he had a hard time with all those banjos! I thought that was so funny and I told my worship musician friend about it, but I really learned something from it. That is that music is cultural as well as generational. From my tiny view, it looks like mostly the church is not mulicultural, but most churches do have more than one generation or age bracket in it's meetings.

I think that we all struggle with wanting to hold onto the old and known, while being scared of the new and different. But there's always going to be a younger generation younger than us that God is drawing that wants it's worship music that it uses to connect with God to be in a style they can relate to. And, if we want to reach out to or be attractive to other cultures, I think that we need to have music that crosses cultures or have cultural flavor of the cultures that are coming to our meetings. These seem so obvious, yet I have not seen it happening from my little window. I know it must be in some places. Another thing I understand is that you might need musicians of the culture you want to emulate or sound like.

It's time to change

You have dwelt long enough at this mountain.
Deuteronomy 1:6

Have you heard the saying that insanity is to keep
doing the same thing, expecting different results?
Have you heard the two stories, the first one about
the person in the flood that keeps refusing the help
that comes to them, saying that, "I'm waiting and
watching for God to rescue me"; and the second one
about the person that goes down a street and falls in
a hole, then avoids the hole and finally learns to not
walk down that street?

Those are three sayings or parables that illustrate
that to a degree, WE are responsible for our growth in
life. Or, WE are the ones blocking our way to growth
and happiness rather that the dark forces or other
people.

I heard another story about a person who had a bee
that was buzzing around them and they cried out to
God, "make it go away", and they heard God speak back
to them, "(you) kill it".

I whole heartily believe that at times we need to wait
on the Lord and I am waiting on a number of things in
my life. But I also believe that in most things, God
would say to all of us, "what are you waiting for?"

What if I fail? That's fine. I believe I can fail at
something and not be a failure- the greater negative
is to do nothing. Mistakes, misfires, or messes all
teach me something I can never get from a book or from
listening passively. Failures or unsuccessful
attempts lead to learning and to getting it right
later.

I think that God is always about partnering- we have a
part to play and we have to do our part.

Prayer to the Son

I have this picture in my mind that when we pray to
God in heaven, we are touching on the power He has and
His heavenly view of things. It's like how I can only
see so far around me, but the higher up I go, the more
perspective I have. If I can get all the way up into
the heavens, then I can see the whole earth.

I think that when we pray, "thy kingdom come, thy will
be done, on earth as it is in heaven", we're asking
for heaven on earth- things to be down here as they
are in heaven. God sees what could be in a person or situation.
I go to prayer usually to ask God for something for myself or
someone and I believe that's a good thing. But a
deeper thing I find happening or sense God wanting to
do is to change me, to give me more of His view on
situations. God is fully realistic about situations
we face, but He is also fully optimistic. So I am
learning to not just call out from down here for help,
but to go into the perspective from above and pray
along those lines. As the sun shines down, far beyond what
I can see, the Son also sees everything that I don't and has
a perspective on things that I want to touch.

Baskets








At church yesterday, we talked about the stories in
the gospels of the feeding of the four and five
thousand people, focusing on the means of serving and
the leftovers.

Our discussion can be summed up with one main thought
and two secondary points. Provision is the main idea:
God provides. Secondly, Christ-followers are called
to serve in his ministry: he does good through me; and
when God provides, He over does it and there's more
than enough.

The baskets are empty until they are put into service.
In fact, they are empty or without enough until they
are reached into. Jesus didn't set up a huge buffet
table and say, "line up", but sent out the disciples
with their baskets or arms filled with food. The more
they gave out, the more they had to give; and when
every one was fed, they had lots of leftovers.

We too have figurative baskets that are also empty and
that's not a bad thing. The good thing is that we
have the baskets that are ready for service, ready to
be filled, to be used. So, I want to remember, when
I'm out in the world, that God could have something to
give the someones around me out of my basket. Will I
look and see and act? Will I cut back on being so
inwardly focused and look outward at what God would
like to do? Will I stop putting it all on God and
start giving away what I already have from God?
That's what I want to do, plan to do, will do. Yes.

Together

And let us consider how we may spur one another on
toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting
together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let
us encourage one another and all the more as you see
the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)

I need to gather together with the church. There are
many reasons to gather but being in the church is
about being the church together. I believe we need
each other. I believe it's essential. Not like a
vitamin or a shot in the arm, but like protein; needed
all the time to be healthy.

I think we need to discover each other. What are you
about? Where are you at? How are we alike and
different? I think we should enjoy observing each
other's lives and desire to understand how others
"tick", or at least try to understand.

Then, when we are on the way to getting a grip on what
this other person is about, I think we're supposed
to provoke each other. Provoke is a word that is
often used to mean pushing someones's "hot buttons",
and getting them angry. But in the church, I think
we're supposed to awaken each other to do the right
thing, the godly thing, to take the path of love. I
think we need to challenge each other to take our
lives to higher levels of love. I think this is an
essential ingredient in togetherness in the church.

Another thing I think we need that we get from each
other when we gather is encouragement. This can mean
consoling, comforting, or urgently appealing to each
other.

What is an urgent appeal? I think of it as you and I having
very valuable information- words of life that we need to
speak to each other when we are down or looking like we're
veering off the path. It is a "from the heart" word, spoken
out of care and love rather than a "know it all", prideful place;
or a "get it together because you are bothering me" place.

The church is an organism where each part needs
various other parts. The hand needs the brain and the
heart, but it can not function without the arm. If
the hand said the the arm, "I don't need you", or "I'm
going to ignore you", or "all I need is the head";
that would be ludicrous. That's how it is when we
just want receive from God or from the Word or even just
from one person.

So, sometimes I think that we need to be reminded that
who and what is important is right in front of us. We
need each other. Being together is an active thing,
an activity. I need to be provoked and I need to provoke love.

I need you to come along my side and encourage me.
Someone might need to be consoled and still other ones
need an urgent message reminding them about Christ
and His soon return. We need to be together.

Peace in the warrior


Today I want to write about peace:
God revealed as God of peace,
Jehovah Shalom, in Judges 6:23-4.


Gideon had fears and questions. He was being called
to risk and called to war. When I think of peace I
think of it as being the opposite or war, yet here
this man being called to battle is also told, "peace".

A better understanding of what peace is helps me to
get a grip on this. Peace or shalom is something that
is internal that has to do with being, then doing,
inside, then outside. Peace has to do with organic
wholeness and even prosperity, being in-sync or in
alignment.

I can't function well externally, whether waring or loving
when I don't have this peace or shalom that comes
from God within me. When I have this shalom of God
in my heart, radiating through my spirit,
He flows into my emotions, soul, and mind.
Then my thoughts are clear and my speech is godly
and my whole person is in alignment.
When I'm filled with fear or anxiety it's different.
I need the God of peace to fill me again.

God is my banner

My scripture today is Exodus 17:15. The Israelites
are on their way through the desert and they get
attacked for the first time, by a people called the
Amalekites, who are descendant's of Esau. In a later
re-telling of what happened, we will read that the
Amalekites attacked the weakest and slowest people
who were at the back of the group. We will also later
find Samuel as God's prophet, telling king Saul to
exterminate all the Amalekites. I am reviewing these facts
to call attention to reality that the Bible categorizes the
Amalekites as "bad".


The Hebrew word for Amalekite could be
loosely translated into colloquial English as,
"low-life" or "bottom-dweller".

The story is that these people attack the Israelites
and Joshua leads a battle against them. God instructs
Moses to hold up his staff, the same one he used when
confronting Pharaoh and parting the Red Sea, while
Joshua and his army fights below. When Moses gets
tired and lowers his staff, Joshua and the Israelites
begin losing the battle. Then Aron and Hur help Moses
hold up the staff and Joshua is able to win the
battle.

Then God speaks to Moses and says that He vows to blot
out the Amalekites and Moses declares a new revealed
name of God, "God is my banner". I think that
the word picture is of a banner, a standard lifted on a pole, or an
ensign; over the people of God. God as a banner
defends, protects, empowers and fights for His people
who come under Him for help. God is a banner over His
people, but not just a physical banner, but a spiritual one
that is a sign of God fighting on His people's behalf. He
fights for His people. I can get this revelation too.

What about when God's people are defeated?
My answer is that God has the last word.

All I can do is believe in God revealed and act on that belief.
Genuine faith believes despite the circumstances
because it is based on the word of God
whom it's confidence rests on.

On the third day, bitter water

In Exodus 15, the Israelites have been delievered from
slavery and the Egyptian army has drowned behind them
in the sea and they start their trek across the desert.
They go for two days without finding water and then
on the third day they find water, but it is bitter
tasting.

The people complained or grumbled about the water.
The New Living Translation says that, "the people
turned against Moses." So, Moses went to God and
cried out for help. What to do? God showed him this
wood and Moses placed the wood or branches into the
bitter water and it became sweet.

Then God lays out some rules for the people, through
Moses, saying that if you listen to me and obey me,
what happened to the Egyptians will never happen to
you. Then God says, "for I am the Lord that heals
you".

It's easy to see that obedience is a good thing that
God wants, but is God saying that if you are obedient,
I will heal you? Why would God place this bitter
water in front of them? Perhaps God wanted them to
drink the bitter water. Perhaps the water that tasted
bitter was actually healing. What if it had something
in it that was naturally healing, but had a bad taste.

I think there are often things in our life that taste
bitter, but by drinking it we are made better. We
often cry out and complain about it and resist it.
What if we never take the bitter cup but always refuse
it and will only drink sweet things? I think that God
is so patient that He will allow this and let us live
below what He really wants for us, a life of
deliverace on the outside and on the inside, at all
levels. I believe that most peple turn God down and
say, "no thanks", to really walking with Him. But I
also believe that God continually gives followers
second chances on and on.

Sacrifice releases provision



Genesis 22 is the chapter I looked at this morning.
This is where God reveals Himself as Jehovah Jireh:
God-who-provides. But is wasn't until Abraham was
fully obedient that God released new provision to him.

His faith was tested. He allowed the test and took
part in it obediently and recieved new provision.

I find it interesting that Abraham had to go on a
journey to take this test and that he told people that
he was going to worship. What a sacrifice of praise.

He heard. He believed. He obeyed. He spoke faith
words. He recieved provision.

I wonder if God only rarely asks for this kind of
obedience and sacrifice of us or it's supposed to be a
constant life-style? It seems to me that things
important to me in my life need to be given up on
the alter so that God has full access to transform them.

Humility

We looked at Luke 17:20 through Luke 18, at church and I saw humility as being the theme that kept arising:
  • The kingdom of God is not some secret thing, but something that happens within and among us.
  • It requires humility to keep praying about the same thing over and over.
  • Humbling ourselves in prayer is a good thing: being in need, coming under God.
  • Babies are humble and give us a picture of how to act toward God.
  • To follow God means everything we have and are is at God's disposal, everything is His.
  • God rewards the humble person. If you and I give, God will give back.