surrender

Everything In-between {ex29:19-20}

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In the end,
what You will have of me is
all
or
nothing.

There is no in-between.

Either I will be consecrated
head to toe,
my entire being
holy ground,
or
I will be a vast, open
wasteland—
a demonic haunt.

There is no in-between.

For You
(the indwelling universe-God)
will not be relegated to
a shelf
a building or
a weekly (better-not-be-longer-than-an-hour) visit.

You will either dwell
in the midst
or
You will be completely
banished from the land.

There is no in-between.

You are uninterested
in negotiation
or compromise.

Come, then,
and take no prisoners—
except me, that is.
Captivate me
head to toe
and all that's
in-between.

Come, Divine Intruder:
Make me
holy ground.

 

God values responsibilities over rights.

God values responsibilities over rights.

Nehemiah 5

It is an interesting trend in our culture that we value rights over responsibilities. Just ask yourself how often you hear language such as "It’s my right!" as opposed to "That’s my responsibility." In fact, we even like to use the smokescreen of "rights" to shirk responsibility. But this is the opposite of what God is like. He values responsibilities over rights.

God specializes in internal medicine.

God specializes in internal medicine.

Ezra 10

Have you ever heard this saying? You can take a boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy. That’s what I thought of as I read this last chapter in the book of Ezra. Only, in this situation, I suppose it would be more accurate to say, You can take the Israelites out of heathenism, but you can’t take heathenism out of the Israelites.

Temple Tailor {ex26}

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Measurements specified
down to the inch—
linen curtains
crossbars
acacia-wood frames

Accessories requiring
a wealth of resource—
bronze clasps and
gold hooks and
loops of blue yarn

When God sets out
to build Himself
a temple,
He leaves
no corner untouched,
no detail unplanned.

We so casually declare
our bodies to be
the temples
of this Holy Spiriting God
while intending
to satisfy Him with
our present accommodation.

Take note:
the God who deigns
to live in you
is not planning to
make Himself
at home.

He is planning to
make Himself
a home.

 

God can give us more.

God can give us more.

2 Chronicles 25

Amaziah—like his father—started out well as king. Later, he too strayed from the ways of the Lord, but as kings of Judah went, he was a pretty good one. (Which is, I think, a sad commentary on the kings of Judah!) Before he went astray, however, he had a habit of listening whenever the Lord talked to him. One such occasion was recorded in this chapter:

God's power structure is based on submission.

God's power structure is based on submission.

2 Chronicles 21

Over the last several chapters of 2 Chronicles, I’ve noticed an interesting trend. See if you can spot it in this passage from today’s chapter: "Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. He followed the ways of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for he married a daughter of Ahab. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord. In the time of Jehoram, Edom rebelled against Judah and set up its own king. To this day Edom has been in rebellion against Judah. Libnah revolted at the same time, because Jehoram had forsaken the Lord, the God of his ancestors." (vs 5-6, 8, 10)

God knows what to do.

God knows what to do.

2 Chronicles 20

This chapter contains what has to be one of the most moving expressions of trust in God to be found in the Bible, contained in the middle of Jehoshaphat’s prayer: "But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you [God] would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them. See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you." (vs 10-12)

God helps those who seek Him.

God helps those who seek Him.

2 Chronicles 16

I’m sure you’ve heard this famous saying: God helps those who help themselves. A popular idea, but is it true? King Asa’s experience in 2 Chronicles 16 would seem to contradict the idea. For what was Asa doing, but helping himself? "In the thirty-sixth year of Asa’s reign Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah and fortified Ramah to prevent anyone from leaving or entering the territory of Asa king of Judah. Asa then took the silver and gold out of the treasuries of the Lord’s temple and of his own palace and sent it to Ben-Hadad king of Aram, who was ruling in Damascus. 'Let there be a treaty between me and you,' he said, 'as there was between my father and your father. See, I am sending you silver and gold. Now break your treaty with Baasha king of Israel so he will withdraw from me.'" (vs 1-3)

God uses adversity to educate us.

God uses adversity to educate us.

2 Chronicles 12

One of the things that never ceases to amaze me is the idea we have that our lives here on Earth should be easy and relatively painless. We must have this idea buried deep somewhere in our minds, for it seems that when any of us face adversity or crisis, we react with shock. How could this happen to me? Next, we focus our energies on how to get out of the unpleasant situation.

God's plans are paramount.

God's plans are paramount.

2 Chronicles 5

I heard this quip recently: Wanna hear God laugh? Tell Him your plans. I’ve heard that before, and it always makes me chuckle (although I do believe that God wants to hear what’s on our minds). But I think it’s true that we sometimes have our days and weeks planned out so intricately that we forget about God and the plans He has for us. And even if we remember, often we try to somehow fit His plans into the plans we already made for ourselves.

God can be trusted with the details of our lives.

God can be trusted with the details of our lives.

1 Chronicles 24

In this chapter, we encounter once again the Hebrew practice of casting lots. This time, it was used to create the divisions of priests who would work in the temple: "A larger number of leaders were found among Eleazar’s descendants than among Ithamar’s, and they were divided accordingly: sixteen heads of families from Eleazar’s descendants and eight heads of families from Ithamar’s descendants. They divided them impartially by casting lots, for there were officials of the sanctuary and officials of God among the descendants of both Eleazar and Ithamar." (vs 4-5)

God wants us to trust Him.

God wants us to trust Him.

1 Chronicles 22

Just before Solomon ascended to the throne, his father made all the necessary preparations for the building of the temple. David had wanted to build the temple himself, but God had decided that Solomon would build it instead. This was because Solomon would not be a warring king, as his father had been. In fact, Solomon’s very name was related to the Hebrew word for peace. It seems that God wanted the idea of peace to be an integral part of His dwelling place on Earth.

God lets go.

God lets go.

1 Chronicles 10

Well, we made it through the genealogies. Now on to something a bit easier—or so I thought. As someone who is educated in the principles of journalism, I have to say that I encountered a bit of a problem in chapter 10 regarding the death of Saul. There are two seemingly-different accounts of his death within a few paragraphs of each other!

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's way brings peace.

God's way brings peace.

1 Kings 4

At least starting out, Solomon did things the right way. He had a heart for others. With his newfound power, he was more worried about having the wisdom to judge his people fairly than he was worried about accumulating wealth or honor. And here, we see that God was true to His word: He gave Solomon what he asked for... and everything he didn’t ask for.

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 is going to sort things out.

God is going to sort things out.

Poor David. Fleeing from Jerusalem, rumors flying around him, and now, being abused by a man from Saul’s family. Not only was the man cursing David, but he was throwing stones and dirt at him and his troops as well. Finally, one of David’s men asked if he could go over and cut the guy’s head off. (What a nonchalant request.) David’s reply was very interesting:

God can be trusted.

God can be trusted.

2 SAMUEL 15

This has to be the most important lesson we could ever learn in life... and it certainly seems it was a lesson David had learned well. As he was fleeing Jerusalem—running for dear life from his own son—he realized that the Levites and the high priest had carried the ark of the covenant out of the temple. This wasn’t unusual. In the past, if you’ll remember, the Philistines had captured the ark and carried it away—sort of like a good luck charm. Well, that didn’t work out so well for them.

Consume Me {ex3:2}

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The burning bush
was burning
but it was not.

Burning,
but not burning up
or burning down
or burning out.

Just burning.
A vessel
not too imperfect
to hold
Perfection.

Perhaps I could be
such a vessel.
One you burn, but don't burn up.
One you wear, but don't wear out.
One you break, but don't break down.

Consume me.
Engulf me.
Overwhelm me.

Do whatever it takes.
Enshrine your Perfection in me.
Use me
to get the attention
of your prophets
and priests.

I am just a simple shrub
ready to burn.

 

God cannot be managed.

God cannot be managed.

2 SAMUEL 6

Right off the bat, I must confess that I owe a debt of gratitude for the way I look at Uzzah’s story to Eugene Peterson’s insights in his book Leap Over a Wall. If you’d like to read more about the life of David, I highly recommend picking up that book. It helped me see a lot of things in a new way—including the story of Uzzah.