stubbornness

When the Heart Becomes a Black Hole {ex11}

Photo © Unsplash/Ed Robertson

Photo © Unsplash/Ed Robertson

by the time
God announced
the plague
on the firstborn
for the /second/ time
didn't Pharaoh know
God could and
would
do exactly
what He said

after the
blood
frogs
gnats
flies
dead livestock
boils
hail
locusts and
darkness
was there anything left
more dark
than Pharaoh's heart

how dark does it have to get
to not understand
that your opponent
controls
the very elements

-all of them-

didn't Pharaoh know
that if God said
his son was going to die
he would /in fact/
be planning a funeral
if he didn't
change course

why wouldn't you change course

in ancient egypt
the only person more important
than the firstborn son of the Pharaoh
was Pharaoh himself

why wouldn't you change course

is there anything
in this world
more powerful
than the human heart

is there anything
more capable
of being more implacable
than the heart
bent on rebellion

is there anything
more wild and dangerous
than the freedom to choose
and the power
it imparts

the power to
so harden ourselves
to truth
that /in the end/
we could sacrifice
what is most important
to us

and be ourselves
swallowed up by
allconsuming
darkness

 

Ruined {ex10:7}

Photo © Unsplash/Thu Trang Nguyen Tran

Photo © Unsplash/Thu Trang Nguyen Tran

The question Egypt's officials
put to their king
haunts me

How was he so blind
or so stubborn
or so arrogant
that he didn't see how
everything he loved
was slowly crumbling around him

Or did he see

Maybe the problem wasn't
that he didn't know
but that he did

Maybe the problem wasn't
that he thought he wasn't ruined
but knew he was
and thought there was
still a chance

still a way
he could fix it

One more opportunity
one more try
one more day
to start over
to redouble his efforts
to get it right

Maybe the problem wasn't that Pharaoh
didn't know Egypt was ruined
but that he still believed
he could repair the damage

But there is only
One
who can restore

There is only
One
who can rebuild

There is only
One
who can recover
all that has been lost

and it’s not us—

To be ruined
is not the problem

The problem is
we no more want to obey
than Pharaoh did
those two little words
God spoke:

Let. Go.

 

God doesn't easily give up.

God doesn't easily give up.

1 Kings 20

Ahab has to be the most wicked king in Israel’s history. So that’s why I found it interesting that, in this chapter, God is still trying to get through to him. I mean, if I didn’t know that God was a total genius, there could be times when I might think that He was a little thick. But I just don’t think He can help Himself. When He sees an opening, He takes it.

All Hail {ex9:23}

Photo © Brian Gary

Photo © Brian Gary

A monstrous storm of hail
fell
such as Egypt had never seen before
and hasn’t seen since.

It smashed trees.
It smashed crops.
It smashed people and flocks.
It smashed everything it touched.

But the one thing it didn’t smash
was Pharaoh's implacable heart,
that dense little rock
beating in his chest.

God could undo Egypt,
but He couldn’t undo the king.

All hail the power
we’ve been given
to fortify or destroy
our own personal dynasties.

 

Good Question {ex5:2}

Photo © Unsplash/Peter Sjo

Photo © Unsplash/Peter Sjo

Ah,
the ineludible question
of every person
wise or foolish

(for the Lord does not refrain
from entering uninvited
the lives of idolaters
to introduce
Himself).

Asking the question
indicates neither
wisdom
nor
folly.

But how one responds
to the answer
reveals
a fool
or
a genius.

Once we know
the sun
the River
the frogs
et al
are frauds,
will we
relent
or
will we
refuse?

Who is the Lord that i should listen to him?
said pharaoh, the little transient ruler of egypt.

I'm so glad you asked
replied Almighty God, Creator of Heaven and Earth.

 

God isn't defensive.

God isn't defensive.

2 SAMUEL 10

I love it when the Bible surprises me. I know I’ve read this chapter before, but I read it again today as if for the first time. It seems like David was on a roll, looking for ways to show God’s kindness to those who would be considered enemies. That’s why he sent an Israeli delegation to Hanun, king of the Ammonites, to express his sympathy upon the death of his father.

God can't always cure blindness.

God can't always cure blindness.

1 SAMUEL 19

As I read this chapter, I couldn’t help but think about how absolutely blind Saul was—especially as we got down to the very end. David had fled to Ramah (where Samuel was), and Saul sent a group of men to capture him and bring him back for execution. But, the first group of men got to Ramah and got sidetracked by God’s Spirit. So Saul sent a second group of men to capture David, and they also got detoured by the Spirit. Saul sent a third group of men to get David, and they too were held up by the Spirit.

God lets us get burned.

God lets us get burned.

JUDGES 3

What would happen if you went in your kitchen right now, turned on the stovetop, and put your hand on the burner? You’d burn your hand, of course. And how do you know you’d burn your hand if you touched a hot stove? Probably because you or someone you know has had just such an unpleasant experience in the past. And that’s how we learn that touching a hot stove is dangerous and can harm us.

God travels the middle of the road.

God travels the middle of the road.

JOSHUA 23

I just love how, sometimes, the tiniest things jump out at me. Here’s one for today: "Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left." (vs 6)  Here’s something that’s hard for us to remember sometimes: Every road has two ditches—one on the left and one on the right. God doesn’t want us to end up in either of them. He wants us to travel the middle of the road, where He is.

God chooses the best of the worst.

God chooses the best of the worst.

JOSHUA 11

Choosing the best of the worst. Almost sounds like going to the polls sometimes. However, when it comes to choosing the best of the worst, God wasn’t voting; He was simply trying to maintain contact with the human race. Sometimes, I’m not even sure how He accomplished that. As I continue to read through the Old Testament, I’m awestruck at the large numbers of people who just don’t get it.

God knows human nature.

God knows human nature.

JOSHUA 6

Is it just me, or is the story of the Fall of Jericho a little bizarre? I felt like a three-year-old as I read this chapter, as I realized I was asking why? to just about everything. Why did God want tens of thousands of people to march around the city? Why did they do it for seven days? Why not just one time? Why were the Israelites told they couldn’t make a sound—except on the final day, when they shouted? If God just wanted to get rid of everyone in the city, why did He spare Rahab and all her family? And if He wanted to get rid of the people, why did He have the Israelites kill all the animals?

God loves His rebellious children.

God loves His rebellious children.

DEUTERONOMY 31

I would like to marry two concepts I find in this chapter. First, that God’s love is active. It is a verb, not a noun. And second, that God loves us even while knowing exactly who and what we are. His intimate knowledge of our wickedness does not change His love for us. In fact, if anything, I think it fires Him up to love us (that is, to fiercely act for our best good) even more.

God is a refuge!

God is a refuge!

NUMBERS 35

There is a beautiful analogy about God in this chapter of Numbers. If a person had unintentionally killed another person, the cities of refuge provided a place for them to flee when they were being pursued by the "avenger." If the "avenger" found them outside the city, they could be killed, thus "avenging" the death. But if the person made it to the city of refuge, they could request a trial. If found innocent, they would be allowed to stay in the city. If they were found guilty, however, they would be turned away from the city.

God cares most about motives.

God cares most about motives.

NUMBERS 15

Have you heard the story of the kindergarten teacher who was having trouble getting a little boy to sit down in his chair? After a long battle, the boy finally plopped down into the chair with his arms crossed, glaring at his teacher. After a moment, he said, "I may be sitting down on the outside, but I’m still standing on the inside!"

God has a battle plan.

God has a battle plan.

LEVITICUS 26

I don’t know that I’ve ever had more utter respect for God than I have at this moment, after going through 26 chapters of Leviticus. There’s this image I have of Him in my mind as a strong, hulking man with bulging muscles who has encountered a rip-roaring, flooded river, and on a tiny piece of land in the middle of this rushing river is a huddled group of soaking-wet, desperate people who have no way to get out of their predicament. And with no thought for Himself, this strong God, with sleeves rolled up, strides mightily into the midst of that roaring river, dodging the debris and deflecting the uprooted trees, with every fiber of every muscle straining against the current to reach and save those people.

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 is slow to wrath.

God is slow to wrath.

EXODUS 11

Let’s face it. This chapter is problematic for God. On the surface, it doesn’t make Him look very good, does it? What can you say about a God that goes around killing children? (Oh, I wish I had a little more time to write about death today, but I’m sure it will come in time. It’s a large Bible... )

In the past, I have hea