Memory Lapse

Confession: sometimes I go to do something and then forget what I was going to do. I walk out to the garage to grab something and then just stand there because I have no idea what I went out there to grab. Please tell me this happens to you, too. I think we all have these memory lapses at one point or another. We forget things, even things we were told to do. It was probably an honest mistake; we just need to be reminded.

forgetful

Other times, however, the problem isn’t memory. The problem could be that we just don’t care. Or maybe we weren’t paying full attention. It’s possible that we weren’t listening. And while we don’t like to have to give instructions more than once, sometimes others have to do that for us. God did it for Moses in Exodus 26.

Exodus 26:30 Set up the tabernacle according to the plan shown you on the mountain.

In this chapter, God is giving VERY SPECIFIC instructions regarding the building of the tabernacle. Every detail is mentioned. It’s not like those directions that you get when trying to assemble a piece of furniture. No, these directions were very clear. And then there is this little verse right in the middle of the setup manual… “follow the plan I already gave you on the mountain.” Hmmmmm. God has already given Moses the plan; then here we see Him giving it to him again. God had to give him the instructions twice? That’s weird. He’s never had to do that with me. Oh wait…

Okay, I admit it. God has had to “remind” me of some things. You too? At least I’m in good company.

You see, God gave Moses some plans up on the mountaintop. In the same way, God has spoken to me on the mountaintop. In those times in His presence, He calls out to me and calls me action. In those places, He gets to my heart. In those times, He hands me my marching orders. But when I come down from the mountain, I sometimes have a memory lapse. I end up standing in the garage of life going, “what did I come out here for?” But God in His faithfulness reminds me of my calling. He shows me the steps to take. “Follow the plan I gave you on the mountain, Brad.” Oh, yes, the plan.

He doesn’t shame me, condemn me, or abandon me. He simply lays it out again, lovingly reminding me. So if you’ve had a memory lapse today, return to the Lord and ask Him for a reminder. Ask Him for the blueprints of your life. And when He gives them, don’t hesitate. Start building!

Steve Largent was my hero

Malachi 2:5  “My covenant with him was one of life and peace, and I gave these to him; it called for reverence, and he revered Me and stood in awe of My name.

largentThink for a moment about someone you looked up to as a kid.  Mine was Steve Largent.  He was my hero both on the field and off.  Every spectacular catch he made left me in awe.  He made Seattle quarterbacks look good and made God look even better.  He was a man of integrity and a man of action.   I remember in elementary school I wrote a short story about the rapture happening during a Seahawks game.  Now I know that isn’t a typical kids short story, but stick with me.  Steve Largent goes out deep for the end zone.  The ball is launched through the air and Largent makes the leap of his life.  But then all of a sudden he continues to rise up and up and up and up.   And at that moment hundreds of fans in the stands start to ascend as well.  What is this?  The rapture!  Silly, I know – mixing football with end times theology.

Back to the point.  I revered Steve Largent.  But I bet that his mom or his brother had a very different relationship with him.  To them, he was familiar.  They knew both his strengths and his weaknesses.  So to them, he may have been less of a hero.  Familiarity will do that… if you let it.

We do the same thing with God.  He has given us His grace and has made way for us to know Him.  We have gone from strangers to sons and can call Him Father.  His mercy has covered our sins so that we are not cast out.  But it was never His intention to give us grace in place of  reverence.  He is still God.  We should be living in a place between grace and awe.  Awe in who He is and awe in what He has done.  Awe in what He could do to me if He really wanted.  But He won’t, because His covenant is one of life and peace.  For that alone I should stand in awe of Him.

*Does your familiarity with God lessen your awe of Him?

Take a shower

Zechariah 13:1 On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.

Shower-HeadSometimes when my kids walk into the room, my wife looks at them and says, “you need to go take a shower.”  It’s not that they don’t bathe regularly, it’s just that some days are stinkier than others.  Those are the days where you want to grab a hose and take care of business.  It’s not just kids, some adults need to take more frequent showers, too.  You know what I’m talking about… you walk by someone and the smell hits you about 10 seconds after you pass.  Please, take a shower.

We get dirty.  There’s not a whole lot that we can do to prevent that.  Our bodies need regular cleansing and if we don’t do it, we stink.  I wonder why God made us that way?  He could have just made us smell better over time.  But no, He made us smell when we don’t bathe.  Maybe He did it to give us a picture of what happens spiritually when we don’t bathe.  When we let the dirt of life hang on us we start to stink spiritually.  If we don’t shower in His mercy and forgiveness, we really start to reek.

In Zechariah 13, the Lord promised that He was going to open up a fountain that the people could get clean in.  But it wasn’t physical dirt that needed to be washed away; it was spiritual.  He was going to raise up a fountain that would cleanse them from sin and impurity so that they could be clean before Him.  That fountain?  Jesus.  When we shower regularly in His grace, we can stand before God unashamed.  We don’t have to worry about the filth on our life or the smell coming from our sin.  We can run to the fountain and wash it all away.

These days, my kids don’t really like to take showers.  We tell them that someday that will change.  There will come a day when they look forward to a hot shower in the morning.  They will grow to appreciate the smell of clean.  They will want to wash away the dirt from yesterday.  But for today, dad has to remind them to do it.  And today, your heavenly Father is reminding you to do the same.  Go to the fountain and let Him wash over you.

*Do you need a spiritual shower?

Can I get a dressing room?

Zechariah 3:3-4  Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.”

dressing roomRemember when you were a kid at the department store with your mom?  She found some new clothes that she wanted to try on you.  You were sure you liked them but she wanted to make sure that they fit.  And right there in the middle of JC Penney’s, she starts taking your clothes off.  Mom!!!  Can’t we find a dressing room?  This is embarrassing.  “Just hush. Nobody’s looking.”  Yes, being stripped down in public isn’t the most dignifying of things.

So here in Zechariah 3, he sees a vision of the priest Joshua (Yeshua) being stripped down.  Let me back up a bit.  The scene starts with Satan standing beside Joshua accusing him before God.  Josh is standing there in filthy garments, representing his sin.  And even though the Lord can look right at him and see the filth, he chooses not to condemn.  Rather he chooses to restore.  Right there, in the presence of God, the angel of the Lord strips old Josh down.  No dressing room, no modesty screen, nothing.  There he is, laid bare before the Lord, awaiting the clean garments he is about to receive.  It’s a beautiful picture of God’s grace and redemptive work.

As I read this today, I am struck with the process of God’s restorative work.  We would like to think that God holds a wand that magically swaps our clothes out.  It’s like we stand before Him and “poof” – filthy clothes gone and clean ones on.  It doesn’t work that way, does it?  Removing the filth in our life requires that we take it off.  It’s a choice we must make.  It’s a choice that leads us to standing naked before God.  But if we will make that choice, we will find clean clothes waiting for us.

*Do you have some dirty clothes you need to remove?  Hand them over to God and get dressed in something new.

 

Just shhhh

Zephaniah 1:7 Be silent in the presence of the Lord GOD, for the Day of the LORD is near. Indeed, the LORD has prepared a sacrifice; He has consecrated His guests.

shhhhSome people like to talk… a lot.  There are people who can talk their way in or out of anything.  They can get a speeding ticket dropped or get into a theme park for free.  I don’t know how they do it, but they obviously have the gift of talk and persuasion.  Sometimes you just want to tell those people: shhhh.  I don’t need to hear your excuses; I don’t need to hear you reasons.  Just shhhh.  And sometimes we are those people to God.  We think we can talk our way back into His graces.  We think we can convince Him that we aren’t really as bad as we are.  We think that we have to prove ourselves to Him in order to be accepted.  But He says, shhhh.

The reason?  Because there’s nothing we can do to measure up.  There is nothing we can do to make Him love us more.   Indeed, the Lord has prepared a sacrifice; He has consecrated His guests.  He sent His Son to sacrifice His life for you, so you didn’t have to do all that talking.  You don’t have to try to persuade God into accepting you; you just need to accept His Son.  No more carrying on.  No more elaborate speeches or convincing arguments.  Just grace.  He provided it, you accept it.  It’s that simple.

So shhh.

Dumpster Diving God

Nahum 2:2 The LORD will restore the splendor of Jacob like the splendor of Israel, though destroyers have laid them waste and have ruined their vines.

dumpster-dive

I’m starting to think God is a dumpster diver.  It’s not because He is hungry or homeless or in need.  It’s just that He seems to find some pretty good stuff in there.  He finds things that the world threw out and considered worthless.  He uncovers valuable gems that others thought had no value.  It’s dirty stuff He finds, too.  But He is a restoration master!  He can take what others thought was junk and make it into a work of art.  Yes, He finds some good stuff in there.

Maybe that’s where He found you.  In the second chapter of Nahum, the prophet states that destroyers have laid the people of Jacob to waste and ruined them.  They were trampled on, destroyed, thrown out with the garbage.  There they lay in the dumpster waiting for the garbage truck to pick them up.  They were without hope wallowing in their worthless life.  But their dumpster diving God was on His way.  He was going to restore their splendor, clean them up, and make them new.

That’s what God does.  He reaches down into that dumpster  and pulls each one of us out.  When we feel outcast, He finds us.  When the world calls us worthless, He gives us worth.  When we are covered in the slime of sin – He extends His hand, His grace, and His forgiveness.  Yes, my God is a great dumpster diver!  And for this I am ever thankful.  I am thankful that He is willing to push through the garbage and find me in barren places.  I am thankful that He finds value in those who find no value in themselves.  As the king and psalmist David once said: “God you have pulled me out of the dumpster… er, I mean, pit.”  Thank you Lord!

Whoa! Or is it woe?

Amos 6:1 Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria, you notable men of the foremost nation, to whom the people of Israel come! 

Whoa there tiger! Hang on for a second, put on the brakes.  You’ve got to stop and hear this for a minute.  Ready?  God said “woe.”  When God says woe you should probably pay attention.  Now woe doesn’t mean wow or awesome or sweet.  It means: WARNING.  That’s right – warning, watch out, I know where you sleep.  When God says woe, He isn’t happy and certainly not pleased.  So what was the woe all about in Amos 6:1?

The people were complacent, feeling secure that they were God’s chosen ones.  They went about life their own way forgetting the commands of the Lord.  They started getting lazy about the sacrifices and the worship.  Worshiping idols didn’t seem like that big of a deal.  Sin came easy and cheap.  What’s the big deal, really?  After all, aren’t we God’s chosen.  It’s not like anything bad is going to happen to us.  This, my friends is what I will call “flawed thinking.”

Flawed thinking creates a false sense of righteousness.  It produces grace mongers – people who keep on sinning without restraint because God will certainly forgive.  The woe to Israel was exactly about that.  God had poured out his favor (grace) on Israel but they were abusing it.  They felt very secure when they shouldn’t.  Because you shouldn’t feel secure when you intentionally walk outside of God’s protection.  In the Old Testament, His protection accompanied obeying His commands.  Today, it is accompanied by relationship (which usually will lead you to obeying His commands).  So get in relationship with Him today.  If you are complacent, get up on your feet and put some action to your faith.  If you are a grace monger, repent and actually start striving to walk away from your sin.  Walk in all His ways today and find life and security in His presence.