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Archive for July, 2010

Jesus gave us 120%

July 24, 2010 2 comments

Redeemer.  That is one of the many names for Jesus.  I have called Him that for as long as I can remember and always had a picture in my head of the toy counter at Chuck-E-Cheese.  We are the toys (I am the parachute man) and Jesus brings a stack of tickets to “redeem” them and chooses us to go home with him.  While I think that analogy works in many ways, God has shown me something that has made that word take on a whole new meaning.

The book of Leviticus has a certain stigma attached to it.  It is dry and full of “the law” which can make it hard to read.  I had never studied it so I decided to at least read through so I could say I had.  Some parts were easier to get through and understand than others but it is the last chapter that has really captured my attention and stirred my soul.

Chapter 27 talks about what it takes to redeem something and it goes through a series of example of different things that can be redeemed, the rules behind each one and what it takes to make the transaction final.

13 If the owner wishes to redeem the animal, he must add a fifth to its value.

15 If the man who dedicates his house redeems it, he must add a fifth to its value, and the house will again become his.

27 If it is one of the unclean animals, he may buy it back at its set value, adding a fifth of the value to it.

34 These are the commands the LORD gave Moses on Mount Sinai for the Israelites.

In order for something to be redeemed under the law, the person redeeming it must pay its full value plus “a fifth” which is 20%.  That is 120%

So what was our full value and what did Jesus actually pay to redeem us.

If our healing was worth 5 lashes…He took 6

Isaiah 53:5But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

If our sorrows and grief are worth 10 hairs from His beard…they ripped out 12

Isaiah 53:4Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows

If my bondage to the law or to demonic forces has a full value of 60 seconds hanging on the cross…Jesus hung for 72 seconds.

Galatians 3:13 – Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”

Sin…if my countless sins were worth 100 drops of His precious blood…my Redeemer did not stop there.  He shed 120 to make sure I belong to him.

1 Peter 1:17-19For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

Let that sink in…think about what that means to you.  What I think I am worth is not the same opinion God holds.  Not only does he see my “full value” but he is willing to pay a fifth more for me.

Next time, when you feel like you are worthless.  When you feel like your sin could not possibly be covered.  Remember that Christ’s sacrifice was sufficient to pay the price.  Not only does it cover you…it goes 20% farther.

Lamentations 3:57-58You came near when I called you, and you said, “Do not fear.”  O Lord, you took up my case; you redeemed my life.

My New Name

July 21, 2010 3 comments

You will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow. (Isa 62:2)

If you have read the “About Doug” page then you know that I spent most of my life as a Mormon.  A key part to Mormon life and theology is wrapped up in modern-day temple worship.  I’m not going to go into the validity of temple worship and how LDS temples compare to Biblical accounts…at least not today.

I do want to talk about the idea of a “new name”.  One of the things done in the LDS temples is the giving of a new name to each person that is worthy to receive it.  It is to be kept secret and is used later in the different rituals done inside.  It is normally considered a grave violation to tell someone your name.  Since my temple privileges and blessings have been revoked, I do not feel beholden to that standard any longer and the name means nothing now.  So, at the risk of offending some (sorry if that is you) my “new name” given to me by the LDS church was Simeon.

As far as Bible names go…it’s not so bad.  It could have been much worse (ask Amy).  After all, he is one of twelve tribes of Israel and played a vital part in the life of Joseph.  Lately though I have been bothered by the fact that this name was spoken over me by a man who claimed to be a High Priest in God’s house.  I believe both claims are far from the truth and not Biblically supported. (Again, another topic for another day)

Here is why I am writing this post…God is good and faithful!

Because this was weighing on my heart, I decided to take it to God and ask what my name would be if He gave me one.  The response did not come as quickly as I had hoped.  In fact, it took 3 hours of drawing close to him, quieting my spirit and getting used to His voice before I heard it…Uriah.

Uriah?  Seriously?

I have to admit that I did not immediately recognize the name so I had to look it up and at first I was disappointed.  In case you don’t know, Uriah was the husband of Bathsheba and was murdered by King David.  That did not make my heart leap with joy…in fact, I was pretty confused.  That is, until I read his story.  As I began to work my way through the lone chapter about him, I paid close attention to the few details it gave of my namesake and God began to speak and show me why he chose Uriah.

If you want to read about him go to 2 Samuel 11

Uriah’s wife was HOT! (I don’t think that is in the King James translation).  The Message says Bathsheba was “stunningly beautiful” and I would say the same thing about my wife and I know God would too.

Apart from this, he was honorable, loyal, devoted and concerned for others.  He was willing to do battle and even go to his death for God.  Despite David’s best efforts, Uriah could not be tricked or pressured into doing something he knew would be wrong.  He was a man of principles.

He was not weak.  In fact, he was part of a select group that was assigned to be King David’s body guards.  He was trusted with a high position of responsibility.  When it came time to go to war, he was fearless and went where the opposition was greatest and never backed down.  He was always in control of his appetites and ultimately died because he would not compromise on his beliefs.

Now, I don’t pretend to embody all of these attributes but I can see some that apply.  God however creates with words.  When he speaks, he does so with purpose.  With His words, God calls out of us who we were created and redeemed to be. (hat-tip to Bob Hamp)

God called Gideon, who was full of fear and self-doubt a “mighty warrior” before he ever was one.  I see God doing the same thing here with me.  I have a long way to go in many areas but I will gladly stand on this word knowing that when my Father looks at me, this is what he sees.

One last note on this:  The name Uriah means “The LORD is my light” which matches up perfectly with a prophetic word that was given to me earlier this year.

Like I said…God is good!

Walk…Sprint…Grinding Halt

July 14, 2010 3 comments

Walk…Sprint…Grinding Halt

That seems to be the pattern of my spiritual walk these days.  Moments with steady progress that lead to a rapid acceleration and awesome revelation.  Then…nothing!

The best visual I can come up with to describe it is the difference between the slow creeping of a roller-coaster as it ascends the first hill; the sudden (but expected) increase in velocity that follows bringing with it a few surprising twists and turns; ending in the sudden, lurching stop at the end that takes away all of the momentum created by the ride.  Excitement lingers but disappointment that the ride is over quickly sets in.  Having known the joy of the ride and wanting to experience it once more, waiting to start again seems unbearable and you wish you could just stay in your seat and head back up that hill without going to the end of the line.

I ask myself why this cycle keeps repeating.  Why does the ride come to that grinding halt?  Why do I get off the ride and get back in a self-imposed line when I don’t have to?  I am openly frustrated by it and I’m pretty sure I am not the only Christian that experiences something similar.

I don’t think I am going out on a limb by saying that every Christian should hope for (and to certain extent expect) to encounter and hear from God each and every day.  So why don’t we (or why don’t I)?

Taking into account that God is…Omnipotent, Omniscient, Just, Merciful, All Loving, Omnipresent and everything else in between…It is safe to say that the issue is on my side and not His.

Hebrews 11:6 says that God rewards those who earnestly seek him.  Other translations say to sincerely or diligently seek.  Perhaps this is where I run into trouble.  Each one of these descriptions means something different that when put together shows a greater understanding for how we should approach God and our relationship with Him.

Earnestly – From an intense and serous state of mind

Sincerely – The absence of hypocrisy, feigning, or any falsifying embellishment or exaggeration

Diligently – Steady and energetic effort (also from the Latin “diligere” meaning to esteem or love)

This is how God deliberately said he wants me to seek him.  The Bible does not waist words and each one is measure with exact precision.  I’m sure that if I knew Hebrew and Greek better, the original text would lead me to a similar conclusion.  So God is expecting me to come to Him with a steady intensity that comes from a serious love for Him and from a place of open honesty where I take down my guard, free myself of all pretense and rhetoric and just be real.  When you think about it, not being sincere with God is foolish because I know that he searches my heart and knows my motives.  So why do I try to hide or deceive God?

If I look back at my seasons of rapid growth, they are the moments where I am the most “real” with not only God, but also those around me.  It is when I am vulnerable, consistent, and focused on how great my God is through honest worship.

I think and process information as I write so all of this has been hitting the page in “real time”.  It appears that I need to check my heart and make sure that my motives are pure, ridding myself of pride, doubt, fear, distractions and anything else that might keep me from seeking him properly.   Then I can get back on the roller-coaster and this time when the first ride is over, I’m not going to the back of the line and waiting, but instead heading right back up that hill.  After all…my “Dad” owns the ride and has a seat just for me.

These Stones Are To Be A Memorial

July 10, 2010 2 comments

Psalm 78: 1-4

“O my people, listen to my instructions.  Open your ears to what I am saying, for I will speak to you in a parable.  I will teach you hidden lessons from our past—stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us.  We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders.”

I have been thinking a lot about my daughter and what I am doing as a father to help her develop her own personal relationship with God.  What message am I conveying in my everyday interactions?  Are my actions a reflection of my relationship with God and do they match what I say?  Just as important, how well does she know the story of what God has done in my life?

When the Israelites were ready to take possession of the Promised Land they had to cross the Jordan River.  As a demonstration of God’s strength and favor, He parted the waters before them for the second time and allowed them to cross over into the place he had prepared for them.  To make sure future generations remembered this miraculous event, he had them take stones from the middle of the river and stack them on the edge of the bank.

Joshua 4:5-7

“Go over before the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan.  Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?  tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”

We tend to be a lot like the Israelites…forgetful.  It only took days for them to revert to old ways of thinking and disregard the miracles they had just witnessed.  This was a pattern they repeated over and over again.

I can’t even begin to count the number of times God did something for me or spoke to me in a powerful way that I thought I would never forget.  Now, many of those experiences are only a distant, vague memory.  How unfortunate that I did not pass on that experience or write it down before it slid to the back of my mind.

What God does in our lives is vital to the faith of our children and future generations.  What are we sharing with them?  What miracles of salvation, providence, healing, restoration, deliverance and understanding do we need to tell them before they are washed away by life?

What “Stones” do you carry that testify of God?  Take some time this week to begin to write them down so your children, grandchildren and those around you can be strengthened by your declaration of God’s faithfulness.

“That’s My King” by Dr. S. M. Lockeridge

July 9, 2010 1 comment

This sermon has been one of the most impact-full thing I have heard in recent times.  My favorite act of worship is to proclaim to God who He is and what I think of Him.  Nothing takes my eyes off of this world and all my troubles, than focusing on how good, merciful, powerful, great and loving my God is.

How do you worship The King?

Categories: Jesus, The King, Worship

Nooma – Rain

July 4, 2010 Leave a comment

About a year ago I watched part of a series of short messaged by Rob Bell called Nooma.  What is so great about theses messages is that they are short but filled with so many deep messages.

In his first video “Rain” he tells the story of how he was on a walk with his year old son on a beautiful, clear summer morning. All of a sudden, it started to rain. He describes the rain as a “drenching rain”. It was the kind that completely soaks your body and mats your hair to your head.

His main point was that “it always rains”. It is not a matter of “if” it rains, but rather “when” it rains. We might not expect it or plan for it, but at one time or another, it will come.

Now, when it started to rain, he and his son were almost exactly half way around the lake with no shelter. At first his boy did not have a problem because the rain was light but as it intensified, he began to cry. As time when on, his cry turned into a deep, scared and passionate cry that came from deep within. He talks about the power the word “cry” has in the Bible and how God cannot ignore the cries deep cries of need.

Psalm 107:27-29 They reeled and staggered like drunken men; they were at their wits’ end.  Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress.  He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.

He continues his story by saying that in an effort to comfort his child, he holds him close to his chest and tells him, “I love you buddy, were going make it, dad knows the way home, you’re going make it, I love you.”
He kept repeating those words until he got his son back to safety.

When you cry, Jesus is close to the broken hearted and to those who admit they are scared, lost, soaking wet and confused.

In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”. The essence of Salvation is admitting to God that you are lost and that you don’t have it all together and are hurting. Admitting that opens the door for him to enter your life and heal your pain or help you take that extra step when you feel like you cannot go any further.

While in a storm, it is common to not be able to see very far in front of you. You cannot see what lies ahead or if it will end soon. God however, can see from above what we are gong through and knows how to help us get through whatever type of storm we may be experiencing at the time.

Categories: Salvation

Shackled

July 4, 2010 Leave a comment

I often find myself feeling sorry for those that sacrifice happiness today for what they think will bring them “Eternal Life” when they die. It is my belief that they will be sorely disappointed when then they pass from this life to the next when they see how much more they could have enjoyed life living for today instead of what “could be” tomorrow. After all, Jesus said he came to give us a more abundant life now. (John 10:10)

Many live miserable lives, shackled by the very religion that promises freedom. Blinded by the rhetoric spewed from the mouths of their leaders, they cannot see what they are missing in the world around them and do not realize that they hold the key to unlock the shackles that bind them.

For those willing to take off the blindfold for even a few moments and look outside of the prison window, a new world is opened to them. Light shines on their faces, bringing them warmth and comfort. The key glistens in the darkness. The more they look, the more they begin to see and their shady existence becomes evident. The outside world calls to them and even though they place the blindfold over their eyes again to try to block out the light, they can never forget what they had seen and it replays in their mind. Those who choose to go back to their old ways will try to convince themselves that it is better to stay bound and that they are truly happier that way but what they don’t realize is that others can see their misery.

Those who cannot ignore the daylight that now penetrates their lives offering clarity never experienced before, often choose to take hold of the key and loosen/remove the binds placed on them. Not sure of what the future holds, they step out of the darkness into light never looking back. For those who have spent most of, if not all of their lives involved in Mormonism or other legalistic or oppressive religions, life outside is not an easy place to be at first but the chance to really discover who you are while finding your own “God paved” path through life is certainly worth it.

Categories: Freedom, Mormonism