change

God wants to change our hearts.

God wants to change our hearts.

2 Kings 21

Ah, the old, familiar refrain—another evil king in Judah: "Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, following the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had destroyed; he also erected altars to Baal and made an Asherah pole, as Ahab king of Israel had done." (vs 1-3)

God's mercy doesn't always change hearts.

God's mercy doesn't always change hearts.

2 Kings 6

During all the years of the American-led war on terror, there have often been debates about how best to bring change to the Middle East—particularly about how to change the hearts and minds of those who seem intent on destroying Western culture and peoples. Many think it is wrong for us to use military force to accomplish these goals, and they offer other solutions instead, ranging from outright ignoring the problem to pacifism or targeted kindness.

God is looking for willingness.

God is looking for willingness.

1 Kings 15

There is a lot of controversy in Christian circles over the issue of obedience to the law, sanctification, perfection, etc. Some people say that perfect obedience to God’s law is required for salvation. Others say that the law was nailed to the cross with Jesus, so there is no law to keep. Still others say that Jesus kept the law perfectly so we wouldn’t have to. He keeps it for us. To be blunt, I think they’re all wrong.

God is a character builder.

God is a character builder.

1 SAMUEL 25

Some people build skyscrapers. Some people build empires. God builds character.

What jumped out to me in this chapter was David’s near-reversal of behavior from the previous chapter. In 1 Samuel 24, David had a chance to kill Saul—someone who was an avowed enemy—and he didn’t do it. He showed incredible maturity and restraint, even trying to reason with Saul about things.

God tames the wild heart.

God tames the wild heart.

1 SAMUEL 18

What a great contrast in this chapter—of what men are like with and without God. By this time, Saul was obviously aware that God was with David: "Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with David but had departed from Saul." (vs 12) Furthermore, because God was with David, he had success in everything he did. The more Saul tried to derail his success (and even end his life), the more David flourished.

A Change of Heart {gn44:33-34}

Photo © Unsplash/Fadi Xd

Photo © Unsplash/Fadi Xd

as the years had come and gone
since selling Joseph like a pawn
Judah'd had a lot of time
to contemplate his clever crime

but watching how his father grieved
had been much worse than he'd conceived
it wore him down, right to the bone
he reaped much more than he had sown

until at last, a broken man,
he lived a different master plan:
a willingness to be the slave
to sacrifice, and thus to save

redemption needn't seem so strange
even dirty hearts can change

 

Sometimes God says no.

Sometimes God says no.

JUDGES 10

So, the Israelites are at it again... idolatry, that is. After the Abimelek fiasco, Israel enjoyed 45 years of peace—during which time, apparently, the Israelites began to feast at the buffet of Canaan’s gods. Finally, God gave up the Israelites once again to their idols, and they found themselves oppressed by the Philistines and the Ammonites.

Change of Heart {gn33:4}

Photo © Robert T. Garrett

Photo © Robert T. Garrett

Esau, Esau,
what happened to you?
The last time we heard from you,
you were muttering under your breath
about killing your brother,
having been "cheated"
(so you claimed)
out of your "blessing."

How is it, then,
that you garnered
the very best blessing of all?

When did you surrender to the
Transformer of Hearts?

Esau, Esau,
you may not have received the birthright,
but you did not escape the blessing
of a contented heart
at peace with What Is in the world.

 

God is consistent.

God is consistent.

DEUTERONOMY 34

After the death of Moses, the record in Deuteronomy 34 says this: "Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face." (vs 11)  As I read this, it dawned on me that many of God’s good friends are found in the Old Testament, before the testimony of Jesus.

Struggle {gn32:24-32}

Photo © Unsplash/Jason Strull

Photo © Unsplash/Jason Strull

Could I ask for anything more
than to struggle
with You—
to hold tightly
refuse to let go
and demand blessings?

Could I ask for anything more
than to struggle
with You—
to live each day
locked up in Your embrace
engaged so deeply
that it changes my identity?

Could I ask for anything more
than to struggle
with You—
to be breathed on by Your glory
to be blessed by Your presence
and to limp away from Your mighty touch?

O Sovereign God,
may our encounters
forever change the way I walk.

 

God doesn't change.

God doesn't change.

LEVITICUS 19

I have recently been thinking quite a bit about the "God of the Old Testament" versus the "God of the New Testament." I have seen some debates on TV where prominent Christians have basically advocated for "throwing out" the Old Testament in favor of Jesus and the New Testament. I have read blogs and forum postings from confused Christians, wondering how we can possibly "defend" the Bible when things (many of them things God supposedly said!) in the Old Testament look so awful.

God mediates... to us.

God mediates... to us.

GENESIS 44

One of the central tenets of Christianity is that Jesus is the mediator between God and man. Since the root of "mediator" is "media," we can see that there is an element of communication  involved in such a role. But often, Christianity gets confused about what Jesus is communicating and to whom. So why does Jesus play the role of mediator? And what the heck does any of this have to do with Genesis 44?

God's blessings are constant in changing situations.

God's blessings are constant in changing situations.

GENESIS 31

In this chapter, Jacob complains that Laban has changed his wages ten times. "However," Jacob said, "God has not allowed him to harm me. If he said, 'The speckled ones will be your wages,' then all the flocks gave birth to speckled young; and if he said, 'The streaked ones will be your wages,' then all the flocks bore streaked young." (vs 7-8)

God reveals what's in the heart.

God reveals what's in the heart.

GENESIS 22

This is one of the chapters in the Bible that most of us are very familiar with. A lot of questions swirl around this story: Why would God ask Abraham to sacrifice his son? And why in the world would Abraham do it, even without asking a single question? Regardless of the possible answers to these questions, I think this chapter tells us something very important about God that is easy to overlook: He knows what’s in the heart, and He knows how to reveal it.