restoration

God makes beautiful things out of our mistakes.

God makes beautiful things out of our mistakes.

1 Chronicles 2

Okay, ready for genealogy lesson number two? In this chapter, we revisit the genealogy of the twelve tribes of Israel. In it, we find the story of Er and Onan (the sons of Judah) and Tamar. Tamar was married to Er, but before they could have children, Er died. As Er’s brother, Onan was supposed to marry Tamar and continue the family line. He refused, and he died. Tamar appealed to Judah regarding her situation, but even he was unsympathetic.

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 doesn't make junk.

God doesn't make junk.

2 Kings 17

Evil, evil, and more evil. Where does it all lead? To the ruin of God’s creation! Did you notice this verse? "But [the Israelites] would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their ancestors, who did not trust in the Lord their God. They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors and the statutes he had warned them to keep. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless." (vs 14-15)

God can restore everything.

God can restore everything.

2 Kings 8

Since I didn’t end up commenting on her in chapter 4, I’m glad the Shunammite woman is back again. You remember her: She was the gal who (along with her husband) built a room in their home for the prophet Elijah. And, in order to repay their kindness, Elijah told the childless couple that they would have a son. This obviously delighted the woman, but it was clear that she didn’t want to get her hopes up. What I really loved about her, though, was what she did when her son died of a head injury several years later. The woman went immediately to Elijah and said, "Did I ask you for a son, my lord? Didn’t I tell you, 'Don’t raise my hopes?'" (2 Kings 4:28)

God brings life to dead places.

God brings life to dead places.

2 Kings 2

God is life. No matter how barren a place, no matter how dead, His Spirit can bring new life. At least, that’s what we see happening in this chapter of 2 Kings: "The people of [Jericho] said to Elisha, 'Look, our lord, this town is well situated, as you can see, but the water is bad and the land is unproductive.' 'Bring me a new bowl,' he said, 'and put salt in it.' So they brought it to him. Then he went out to the spring and threw the salt into it, saying, 'This is what the Lord says: "I have healed this water. Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive."' And the water has remained pure to this day, according to the word Elisha had spoken." (vs 19-22)

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's justice is different than ours.

God's justice is different than ours.

2 SAMUEL 3

Sometimes it’s difficult to make a statement about God from a chapter in the Bible that doesn’t really mention God at all. However, in this particular chapter, one of the small (and often overlooked) events really stood out to me, and I realized it was a great opportunity to draw a contrast between our type of "justice" and God’s justice.

Fear {gn46:3}

genesis-fear-poem.png

Someday we will understand
just how much
we were ruled by fear
in this world,
how we inhaled
and exhaled
fear
when all the time
we thought we were
breathing oxygen.

Fear is our daily diet.
Fear of dying,
fear of living,
fear of being stuck.
Fear for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
and as many snacks as we can
cram in between.
We are so steeped
in fear
that we think
to be human
is to be afraid.
But this was not
the original
design.

Fear is what we ate
at the tree,
fear the disease
that infected
our first parents
and then their children
and their children
and their children's children.

Fear is malware,
implanted by an enemy,
introduced by an interloper
so long ago,
a virus that will
eventually
crash the system
for good
if we don't allow
our manufacturer
to return us to
the factory default.

God is always telling us
to not be afraid.
This is not parental placating.
This is war propaganda.

To choose to be unafraid
is not a rejection of our nature,
but a rejection of the enemy.

To choose to be unafraid
is not a sentimental act,
but a revolutionary one.

 

God dissolves sin.

God dissolves sin.

1 SAMUEL 12

Out of this whole chapter, there was one verse that jumped out at me. As Samuel was giving his farewell address to the Israelites, they began to lament over the new evil they had done—asking for a king. In response to their distress, "Samuel answered, 'Don’t be afraid. It’s true that you have sinned, but don’t turn away from the Lord. Serve the Lord with all your heart.'" (vs 20)

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

 

God does not restore us.

God does not restore us.

RUTH 4

So, in the end, Ruth finds love. She has left her homeland, her people, and her customs to move with her mother-in-law back to Israel. And because of her willingness to follow God, she ends up as the wife of Boaz and the great-grandmother of King David (not to mention a direct ancestor of Jesus). From her lowly status as a heathen woman, she becomes a woman honored in the history of Israel. I think that’s incredible.

God has a Happy New Year for each day.

God has a Happy New Year for each day.

DEUTERONOMY 30

I found it curious that, in this chapter, Moses almost seems to prophesy that the Israelites will turn away from God: "When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come on you and you take them to heart wherever the Lord your God disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you." (vs 1-3)

God reveals the heart.

God reveals the heart.

DEUTERONOMY 8

I was intrigued by this verse today: "Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands." (vs 2)  As I read, I thought, didn’t God already know what was in the hearts of the Israelites? Of course He did. God knows us intimately and reads our hearts.

God practices commando-style parenting.

God practices commando-style parenting.

LEVITICUS 6

What is the big deal with yeast? I wondered that again as I read Leviticus 6. During the Passover in Egypt, the Israelites were strictly warned to eat bread prepared without yeast (Ex 12:20). And now, in the instructions for the sanctuary system, the priests are warned that none of the bread brought to the sanctuary as an offering is to be baked with yeast. In the New Testament, Jesus continues to bang that particular drum, warning people to be on guard against the "yeast of the Pharisees" (Mk 8:15).

The Sin of Sodom {gn14:20}

Photo © Unsplash/Peter Hershey

Photo © Unsplash/Peter Hershey

I am progressing along the path of life in my ordinary contentedly fallen and godless condition... when suddenly a stab of abdominal pain that threatens serious disease, or a headline in the newspapers that threatens us all with destruction, sends this whole pack of cards tumbling down. At first I am overwhelmed, and all my little happinesses look like broken toys.

Then, slowly and reluctantly, bit by bit, I try to bring myself into the frame of mind that I should be in at all times. I remind myself that all these toys were never intended to possess my heart, that my true good is in another world and my only real treasure is Christ. And perhaps, by God’s grace, I succeed, and for a day or two become a creature consciously dependent on God and drawing its strength from the right sources.

But the moment the threat is withdrawn, my whole nature leaps back to the toys... And that is why tribulations will not cease until God either sees us remade or sees that our remaking is hopeless.  —C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, p106


In a culture where
being gay
is a big deal,
Sodom has become a familiar word.

Even if you don't know anything else about the Bible
you've probably heard
the story of Sodom.

Some folks say
Sodom's sin was homosexuality.
Other folks say
it wasn't.

I say
the real shame is
nobody knows the other story of Sodom:

the one where they were
sodomized by a gang of neighboring kings
attacked and invaded and clobbered
overpowered and crushed and defiled—

the one where they were left
naked and helpless and defenseless
victimized and paralyzed and weak—

until God
rescued them
recovered their possessions
rebuilt their cities
and restored their fortunes.

Sodom's first encounter with God
did not end in
smoking ruin
but
stunning rescue.

In their calamity
(when all their broken toys were
momentarily swept aside
to reveal the One
on whom they unconsciously depended)
they met
a God who delivers, not destroys,
a God who heals, not hates.

Nice to meet you, they said
then quickly leapt back to the toys,
stubbornly clinging
till even their hearts were bound.

 

God gives the full treatment.

God gives the full treatment.

EXODUS 29

As part of the process of ordaining Aaron and his sons to be priests over Israel, they were to be sprinkled with blood: "Take the other ram, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on its head. Slaughter it, take some of its blood and put it on the lobes of the right ears of Aaron and his sons, on the thumbs of their right hands, and on the big toes of their right feet." (vs 19-20)