intimacy

Most Holydays {ex25:22}

Photo © Unsplash/The Joy of Film

Photo © Unsplash/The Joy of Film

In the Most Holy Room
of God's Desert House,
there was a small, open door
to the universe,
where God sat between
His angels and talked
with humanity.

Okay, so the angels were gold
and it was just one man
and God had to make Himself tiny enough
to be stuffed into a room.
Still, for those moments,
it was as if God could have
His cosmic family
together in the same place.

Kind of like a mom
who dreams of having everyone
home again
for Thanksgiving.

 

God cares more about attitudes than rules.

God cares more about attitudes than rules.

2 Chronicles 30

After Hezekiah repaired the temple, he called the Israelites together to celebrate the Passover—something that hadn’t been done for a long, long time. It was a grand celebration—with music and feasting and thousands of sacrifices. The people were having such a great time that, at the end of the prescribed seven days, they decided to extend the celebration for another seven days. There was one slight problem, however: "Although most of the many people who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover, contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, 'May the Lord, who is good, pardon everyone who sets their heart on seeking God—the Lord, the God of their ancestors—even if they are not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.' And the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people." (vs 18-20)

God wants to have a strong bond with us.

God wants to have a strong bond with us.

2 Chronicles 27

One of the few accomplishments of King Jotham that is recorded in the Bible is this: "Jotham rebuilt the Upper Gate of the temple of the Lord and did extensive work on the wall at the hill of Ophel." (vs 3) Of course, any time anyone in Judah had regard for God’s temple, that was a good sign, but Bible scholars suggest that working on the "Upper Gate" of the temple means that Jotham rebuilt and restored the link between the temple and the palace in order to have free access from his house to God’s house.

Dinner Guest {ex24:11}

Photo © CreationSwap/CreationSwap

Photo © CreationSwap/CreationSwap

What kind of God is this,
who issues an invitation
to a personal dinner,
an intimate feast?
Just a little get-together
for seventy of His
(I-hope-you'll-choose-to-be-My)
closest friends.

Indeed, one gets closer
as the courses proceed.
For this mountaintop banquet
was just the amuse-bouche on God's menu
of spiritual nourishment revelation.

None of those seventy elders
could have imagined
the truth about the God
who stood on the veranda of
brilliant blue lapis lazuli,

that His invitation
to feast with Him
would eventually become 
an invitation
to feast on Him,
that His offer of dinner
would soon be
an offering of Himself.

His body and blood,
our bread, our wine,
our life.

Has it not always been so?

 

God wants to be wanted.

God wants to be wanted.

2 Chronicles 15

In some ways, I wanted to title this blog God is not a stalker. But, I guess I do believe that God is a stalker—in the sense that He will pursue us, leaving no stone unturned in winning us back to Him. But, if we ultimately want to have nothing to do with Him, He will eventually leave us alone.I love it whenever I see plain talk in Scripture. And today, this is the message about God I found in 2 Chronicles 15: "The Spirit of God came on Azariah son of Oded. He went out to meet Asa and said to him, 'Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.'" (vs 1-2)

God deals with us individually.

God deals with us individually.

2 Chronicles 6

Today’s thought is a simple one and uses these verses as a jumping-off place: "Forgive, and deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts (for you alone know the human heart), so that they will fear you and walk in obedience to you all the time they live in the land you gave our ancestors." (vs 30-31)

God understands you.

1 Chronicles 28

If I had ever believed in the theory of evolution, I'm pretty sure my first pregnancy would have blown that belief out of the water. As I went through that experience, week by week, I marveled at the little life unfolding in my own body. From the heart that is fully functional and begins to beat by five weeks to the whole development process, it was very hard for me to understand how people (especially doctors who know the intricacies of pregnancy) could believe that there is no design involved in human development.

Beyond those considerations, one of the problems with believing in evolution is that it erases the idea of a personal God who knows you, who knew you even before you were born. Maybe some people aren’t comfortable with the idea of such a personal God; is it a more palatable idea to think that there is no purpose to our existence? That we’re just random accidents and that there’s no meaning behind where we came from or where we’re going?

Photo © Unsplash/Tai’s Captures

Photo © Unsplash/Tai’s Captures

I don’t know about you, but I don’t believe that, and David certainly didn’t believe it either. In his final charge to Solomon, he challenged him to remember God: "And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought." (vs 9)

Is that a comforting thought to you? It certainly is to me. God knows you. And it’s more than just knowing who you are or knowing your name or recognizing your face. He knows you even better than you know yourself. He understands the inner workings of your mind. He understands where your every desire comes from and hears every thought you have.

In addition to that—and probably best of all—He is gracious and merciful and sympathetic. You know, we’re all messed up. And the fact that He understands the intricate workings of your heart only makes Him more compassionate toward you. He doesn’t use this intimate knowledge as ammunition against you. On the contrary, because He understands you so completely, He is the one who is in a position to help you. And He wants to help you.

The only thing that surpasses God’s knowledge of you is His love for you. He knows every hair on your head, He hears every cry of your heart, and He loves every bit of you!

Photo © Unsplash/Kelly Sikkema

Photo © Unsplash/Kelly Sikkema

Wonder-full Thunder {ex19:19}

Photo © Unsplash/Brandon Morgan

Photo © Unsplash/Brandon Morgan

Thunderstorms are my favorite.

I love watching the thick, black clouds
roll in from the west,
the wind whipping up leaves and dirt,
compressing the musty air like a balloon
until it bursts,
giving way to slick, saturating torrents.

I love the paparazzi pops of lightning,
the long, jagged, hair-trigger flashes of noon
radiating through the bruised sky,
connecting heaven and earth
in less than a second
for less than a second.

And I love the thunder,
the low, distant lion's growls
and the ear-splitting cracks
that break over your head
like an egg spilling a clangorous yoke.

As the storm rolls in,
I count the seconds between every flash
and every bellow,
anticipating the moment
when the delay is gone
and the light arrives with a boom.

In all this time,
I have never wondered
if, at that moment,
You were speaking to me.

 

Delegation Abdication? {ex18}

Photo © Unsplash/Sharon McCutcheon

Photo © Unsplash/Sharon McCutcheon

Exodus 18 has been
the jumping-off point
for many a sermon on delegating.
But I wonder if delegating
was what Moses was supposed to do.

He listened to his father-in-law,
but it doesn't say
whether he consulted God
on the newly-proposed
hierarchy.

On one hand,
Jethro's idea took a heavy burden
from Moses' shoulders
and broke it up into smaller
more easily-managed pieces.

On the other hand,
maybe God had intended
Moses to carry
the Israelite Cross.

On one hand,
the people could
get their disputes resolved
without having to practice
so much patience.

On the other hand,
the
plan
added
yet
another
layer
of
bureaucracy
between
the
people
and
the
God
who
had
longed
to
speak
with
them
face
to
face
as
a
man
speaks
to
his
friend.

Perhaps Moses did
the right thing.

But if he had been on
the sure path to
burnout,
why didn't the God
who was in the habit
of speaking with him every day
tell him so
Himself?

 

God is the only way to peace.

God is the only way to peace.

2 Kings 9

Before we get into the meat of today’s blog, I have to point out this verse because it actually made me laugh out loud: "The guard in the watchtower said [to the king], 'Your Majesty, the rider got there, but he isn’t coming back either. Wait a minute! That one man is driving like he’s crazy—it must be Jehu!'" (vs 20) Ha! It seems there were bad drivers all the way back in Bible times. Either that, or Jehu was a teenager.

Name Game {ex6:3}

Photo © Unsplash/Kyle Glenn

Photo © Unsplash/Kyle Glenn

God revealed himself
to Moses
by a different name
than he had used
with Abraham
and Isaac
and Jacob.

An infinite God
with infinite names,
never failing
to manifest his presence
to the finite—
those who may resonate
for one reason or another
with a particular
moniker.

 

God wants to be with you.

God wants to be with you.

1 Kings 6

Such a simple, straightforward message from God in today’s chapter: He wants to be with you. Period. In fact, the whole purpose of building a temple for the Lord was so that He could personally dwell amongst His people. It has always been the cry of His heart to be close to us: "The word of the Lord came to Solomon: 'As for this temple you are building, if you follow my decrees, observe my laws and keep all my commands and obey them, I will fulfill through you the promise I gave to David your father. And I will live among the Israelites and will not abandon my people Israel.'" (vs 11-13)

God sees you as more than a number.

God sees you as more than a number.

2 SAMUEL 24

Perhaps the same question that went through my mind also went through yours as you read this chapter: Why did the Lord get so angry over a census? Clearly, not only was God not pleased with what David had done, but David himself recognized that he had done a bad thing once it was over: "David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the Lord, 'I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.'" (vs 10)

God cares about the things that matter to us.

God cares about the things that matter to us.

1 SAMUEL 1

In 1 Samuel chapter 1, there is an interesting story of a man with two unhappy wives. Both were blessed in different ways, but neither was happy with their blessings. Instead, they wanted what they didn’t have. Hannah, the eventual star of the story, had her husband’s heart and affections. Whenever the family was dining together at the temple, Elkanah gave Hannah "a double portion because he loved her." (vs 5) He showed this affection to her even though she was barren. Of course, Hannah was distraught over the fact that she had no children. For women of that time, a childless existence was usually accompanied with feelings of shame and guilt.

God knew you before you were born.

God knew you before you were born.

JUDGES 13

When it comes to God, one of the hardest things to wrap my finite, little mind around is the fact that He stands outside of Time. As creatures who are so attached to linear time, it is nearly impossible to discuss this aspect of God, because even the words we use to talk about it—past, present, and future—are all words that are irrevocably linked to linear time. God is outside of and above all of these things.

God is just a guy who wants friends.

God is just a guy who wants friends.

JUDGES 6

If you’re one of the people who reads this blog every day but doesn’t necessarily read the Bible chapter that goes with it, I urge you to read Judges 6. I am nearly beside myself with delight at the picture of God in this chapter. The Israelites are at their idol worship once again, when God realizes that there is a man—Gideon—who has a willingness to listen. Even though he has grown up in a home where his father worshiped Baal and Asherah, Gideon is apparently open in his heart to an audience with the Lord.

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.