Thursday, October 30, 2008


"As I looked at the (four) living creatures... I heard the sound of their wings like the sound of mighty waters, like the thunder of the Almighty..."
(Ezekiel 1:15, 24)

For the second day in a row I've read a passage in scripture that describes God (or a Divine Presence) with "the sound of mighty waters." I almost wrote about it yesterday... so I HAD to write about it today!

Water is used in powerful ways throughout the Bible: Creation waters, Noah's flood, Red Sea parting, water from the rock in the wilderness, Crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land, Jonah's "deep sea" adventure, John the Baptist's "immersions" in the Jordan, Jesus' turning water into wine, and Jesus and the "Living Water" of the woman at the well, etc. But here, it's the SOUND of rushing waters that denotes a divine presence (yesterday, Revelation 1 said God's voice sounded like this, too!).

That reminds me of hiking in Hawaii to various waterfalls (especially Akaka Falls on the Big Island)... or seeing/hearing tv images of Niagara Falls... or being in Yosemite & Yellowstone National Parks! There's something quite grand about seeing might waters falling - but hearing them is something else!!! The sound is overwhelming & constant! But what about something as simple as being in the shower? Can that evoke a connection to the Divine? Sure! (If I remember while I'm in the shower).

God is often so hard to describe, explain, and experience that humanity uses words & metaphors which are familiar. [NOTE: I'm sitting here in Starbucks and a 'golden oldie' is playing over the sound system: "Into each life a little rain must fall, but too much is falling in mine." This reminds me of living in Hilo, Hawaii... and how we'd get some MASSIVE rain storms! The sound of rain hitting the tin roof is amazing! Metaphorically, I wonder if some feel that "too much" of God falls upon them at times?!?]

Bottom line: every time I hear the sound of water, I'm going to try and remember God!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

37 years!

"In the 37th year of the exile of King Jehoiachin of Judah, in the 12th month, on the 25th day of the month, King Evil-merodach of Babylon, in the year he began to reign, showed favor to King Jehoiachin of Judah and brought him out of prison..."
(Jeremiah 52:31)

Exile. Foreign land. Separated from home. It was the reality for many Israelites now living in Babylon, including King Jehoiachin, who had become King after Zedekiah's unfortunate demise (see previous entry: "Surrender?!?"). All Jehoiachin had known was exile: 37 years of it! I'm only 40... and I can't even imagine having been imprisoned for almost the entire length of my life. But that's what the King of Judah faced. Wow.

Then on the 25th day of the 12th month (I know the Jewish calendar is different, but on modern calendar this would be December 25th - Christmas Day!!!), Jechoiachin is released! He's still in Babylon, but the new King, Evil-merodach, bestows honor & favor upon him (which goes to show you can't judge a king by his name!). Jechoiachin is able to dine with the king & live a life of grace - even in captivity!

How does this connect to me? (I'm not exactly sure... I just really liked this passage!) I wonder how frustrated, depressed & discouraged Jechoiachin must have been for those 37 years? I'm sure he didn't feel very "king-like" much of that time. But that changed with a new Babylonian ruler. Which also tells me that no matter how bad things may get, nothing lasts forever. Trust in the Lord to sustain you until things change.

PRAYER: Thirty-seven years, Lord? Wow. That's a long ti'me to me. Of cours, in Your eyes, it's but a moment. I don't know of any deep theological truths from today's reading, except to be reminded to never lose a sense of who You're calling me to be - no matter what the circumstances. (And maybe to be extra-thankful for the GIFT we're given by the 25th day of the 12th month!). AMEN.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"Me! Me! Me!" (???)

"I have written something to the church; but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority... he refuses to welcome the friends, and even prevents those who want to do so and expels them from the church."
(3 John 9-10)

There's a problem in the church. THIS CHURCH, in particular. The author of 3rd John mentions the trouble-maker by name: Diotrephes. Why? First, he refuses to recognize the authority of the elder who is writing the letter (who evidently had some kind of significant influence in that particular church). Second, he does NOT have the gift of hospitality. Not only doesn't he welcome other believers who come to the church, but he prevents others from doing so! Wow. Tough guy. Unfortunately, he's not following the spirit of Jesus. The larger issue, however, is stated by the author: He "likes to put himself first."

That's a pretty good measuring stick for all of us: do we put ourselves first... or others? Do we think about our own desires & needs... our own conveniences & preferences... or Gods? If we want to follow Jesus, it's clear how Jesus lived - giving himself away for others, not preserving his own life & preferences. It's not about us. It's all about God. And God has called us to be about the needs of others. Period.

PRAYER: It's human nature, Lord, to want to put ourselves first (or maybe it's American culture?). Yet You call us to give ourselves away for others, like You did while on earth. Keep me focused on that. Help keep my eyes on You, so I can see You in the eyes of everyone. Thank you for the examples of hospitality & grace that I've seen all around me over the years! AMEN.


[NOTE: From Monday, October 27, 2008...]

"Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, 'Thus says the LORD, the god of hosts, the God of Israel: If you will only surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then your life shall be spared, and this city shall not be burned with fire..."
(Jeremiah 38:17)

The "American Spirit" is one of 'rugged individualism.' Work hard! Fihgt hard! Never give up! Never back down!! It's a spirit that pervades movies & books. We're big fans of the Underdog, too! All of this combined makes it hard to hear Jeremiah's words to King Zedekiah here in chapter 38. "If you will only surrender..." Of course, in war, there are times when surrender is the only viable options. But here, at least, it wasn't "that bad" yet, tactically speaking. Nevertheless, Jeremiah counseled the king (in secret) to surrender (note: the King eventually refused! He fled the city & was unceremoniously captured. Even his eyes were gouged out! Ugh.)

Thinking more about our "never give up" mentality... might there be times when God desires our surrender?!? We have our own plans/ideas/strategies... and often we'll "stay the course," no matter what. "Let it go," says the LORD. Surrender. Allow another force to influence what will happen to you and your life. Give in to the reality that you will not always be in control of your own life & destiny.

Could it be that God can use "foreign powers" as part of His plans? Of course! But it shaped their character in a profound way. What about MY life today? Am I bent on maintaining absolute power & ultimate control over my life? Or might I need to surrender, at times, and allow other influences to be in control? Id' like to think I'd be willing to let God use any means God needs to guide me. I'd like to think...

PRAYER: Lord, it's You, not me, in control. Open my ears to hear Your Spirit's instructions... even if it means giving up my plans for Yours. If a time comes for me to surrender, may I not be too self-righteous to follow. AMEN.

Friday, October 24, 2008


"But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare."
(Jeremiah 29:7)

The Babylonian Exile was such a monumental time in Israel's history. It was a time of refocusing back on God and who they were called to be as a people. Just as powerful as the Exodus out of slavery in Egypt into the promised land, now Israel was moved into exile in a foreign land. Anyone who had influence or promise was taken over a thousand miles away... and although some (false) prophets said they'd be back soon, Jeremiah knew otherwise. This captivity would span close to 70 years.

So here in the very beginning, God tells Israel to basically "make the best of it." Build houses, plant gardens, get married & have children. You're going to be there for a while, says the LORD. And while you're at it, God continues, pray for the new city you live in and seek its welfare! Wow. God doesn't want them to let their bitterness, hatred & disappointment to stew inside them. No. "SEEK THE WELFARE OF THE CITY." If the city prospers, you will prosper.

If God would call His people to pray for and work for the good of a city in a foreign land, how much more would God desire US to pray for and work for the welfare of the city we've chosen to live in? How often do I pray for the city here? Not very often, to be honest. And how about "seeking its welfare?" Volunteerism, voting responsibility, helping out with projects and ministries geared towards those in need, choosing not to "talk stink" about the way things are run, etc. There are many ways I can seek the welfare of my city. But will I?!?

PRAYER: Lord God, thank you for giving me the city of Honolulu (Aiea, too!). Guide & direct our Mayor, the City Councilpeople, our State Legislators, the Governor, our police force, fire department, hospitals & medical personnel, schools & teachers, and rescue workers. Reach out to those in need through those of us who have so much. Be with us in this upcoming election, and give us wisdom & discernment as we choose our leaders. Above all else, keep the needs of my city on the forefront of my heart. AMEN.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Timing Revisited

"The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance."
(2 Peter 3:9)

"Jesus is coming soon!" It's a slogan we see and hear in and around Christian circles. The "2nd Coming" of Christ is something Christians over the ages have been anticipating - when Jesus will "return" to earth to usher in the End of the Age, and humankind, as we know it, will come to an end. (Personally, I really enjoy "this life" and am not too eager to see it end!) But just as the early Christians noted, Jesus hasn't returned... yet. This led some to question whether he would actually return or not, since it hadn't corresponded to a timetable anyone expected.

The author of 2 Peter confronts this quandary directly. "With the Lord, one day is like one thousand years and one thousand years is like one day!" Stop thinking in human time frames, we're told. God isn't "slow" in coming. We just can't see the Big Picture like God can.
But what does it matter "when" Jesus returns? This passage says it's all about grace - giving people more time to come to repentance. God wants everyone to be able to come into a relationship with Him - a life-changing, eternal relationship. Maybe instead of speculating "when" Jesus will return, we should be more concerned about connecting people to God! It's not about us at all. It's about grace!

Prayer: Your time is what matters, Lord. Your grace is what it's all about. Help me not to get too caught up on the "when" of your return... but rather the "why"... with as many people as are interested!

Monday, October 20, 2008

In One Ear?

"Stand in the court of the LORD's house, and speak to all the cities of Judah that come to worship in the house of the LORD... it may be that they will listen, all of them, and turn form their evil ways."

The people of Israel have a lousy track record (heck, all people have a lousy track, when it comes right down to it!) - they rarely listen to and/or obey God's commands. Prophet after prophet have come with a message from above. No change. None. God is ready to give the people their consequences... but before He does, He tries once more. Jeremiah is sent to the Temple with a message for change. Why? "It may be that they'll listen... and turn from their evil ways," says God.

God knows human nature. God knows that sometimes (often!?!) we're thick-headed and slow to learn. Nevertheless, God offers us 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, etc. chances to turn our lives around. Whether we listen or not is up to us.

Sometimes I wonder whether my time spent with God each morning reading scripture is actually getting through to me? Can I use what I learn, or is it "in one ear & out the other"? I like to think it's shaping my life... but I need to make sure I'm responding to God's words.

PRAYER: Help me to listen & respond to your words, LORD!

Restoration (Plus!)

[This is from Saturday, 10/18/08]
"Resist (the devil), steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, & establish you."
(1 Peter 5:9-10)

The author is encouraging the believers to resist the temptations of the devil. I'm guessing this can be both personal temptations to sin, as well as the temptation to abandon (or give up on) God when times get rough.

What I love about these verses is the very end. After a little while, the writer promises, God Himself will restore, support, strengthen & establish us. By the very definition, "restore" acknowledges that we'll have slipped, stumbled or fallen in our faith. But God is a god of multiple chances! When we turn to Him, He will restore us! Praise God!! But temptation is temptation... and it's not a "one time only" affair. Quite often, we are tempted repeatedly. Left on our own, we'll fail again. God knows that. So God helps support & strengthen us. God gives us relationships, counseling, accountability, encouragement, and resources to help keep us on the right path. We have to be humble enough (and willing) to accept this, however. As we do, God then works to establish us in His goodness & grace.

The great thing about God is that He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows not only "human nature," but our own foibles, weaknesses, tendencies, & strengths. He knows we'll be tempted & tested by life's challenges & sins. But through it all, God provides a means by which we can regain our strength when we've fallen. And hopefully, by the next time we face those same temptations, we'll be better able to resist.

Prayer: Thank you for your patience, grace, forgiveness, mercy, and support, Lord... as I struggle to be the person you have called & created me to be. AMEN.

Friday, October 17, 2008


"The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, 'Come, go down to the potter's house and there I will let you hear my words.' So I went down tot he potter's house, and there he was working at his wheel. The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him."
(Jeremiah 18:1-4)

One of Jeremiah's more famous images/metaphors - the Potter & the Clay! God, of course, is the potter and we are the clay (though my friend, retired pastor Shig Tanabe says, "We like to think that WE'RE the potter!"). God works our lives into what seems good to Him (however, unlike clay that can't 'push back,' we often rebel against God's shaping!). Notice, the potter doesn't shape the vessel... leave it for a while on its own... and then come back to find later that it's been spoiled. The potter has the clay IN HIS HANDS the entire time! Sometimes it just needs to be reworked.

It's been said that if we want to make God laugh, we should tell Him our plans. This passage reminds me that ultimately God is the One who shapes my life & future. This doesn't absolve me from personal responsibility, integrity & self-control... but rather challenges me to constantly be seeking God's will for my life (rather than my will for my life!).

I also love how the potter never gives up on the clay. If it's spoiled, he reworks it into a completely new vessel. Clay is valuable (and not to be wasted)! But it's also pliable and can be changed. Do I believe the same applies to ALL people? No one is outside the realm of change, by the grace of God!

PRAYER: OK, Lord... You are the potter! Mold me, shape me, rework me as You see fit! Keep me patient alnog the way. help me to work with Your will, not against it. I rest in Your loving & creative hands. AMEN.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Even the BIG GUNS couldn't do it

"Then the LORD said to me: Though Moses & Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn toward these people."
(Jeremiah 15:1)

If one had to list the "Top 5 Most Influential People in the OT" (not including God, of course), Moses & Samuel would definitely be on that list (along with David & Abraham, for sure... the 5th spot could be debatable!). Here in Jeremiah 15, God says something quite startling: God is so upset, frustrated & disappointed with the people of Israel that even if Moses & Samuel would come before Him and plead for mercy on Israel's behalf, God wouldn't change His mind. Wow! Even the "big guns" couldn't get God to change His heart. What, then would it take? Could it even happen?

My second reading today (1 Peter 2) speaks to this question: "'(Jesus) committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.' When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed" (v.22-24).

I know today in some theological circles, the "atonement theory" (Jesus' sacrifice = atonement for our sins) is being questioned & debated as being outdated & blood-thirsty. I'm not interested in getting into any debates on this. But it's quite telling, I think, that Jesus did something (through his life, death & resurrection) that no one else in all history could do - reconcile us to God. Talk about having friends in high places!

PRAYER: There are lots of things I'd do for my friends, God. I'm sure you feel the same way. In fact, there are stories in scripture about you changing your mind after one of your friends talked you out of it! And yet, only Jesus was able to bring me back into relaitonship with you. Wow. I know I don't always appreciate that... but thank you. AMEN.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Inquiring minds want to know!!!

"For the shepherds are stupid, and do not inquire of the LORD; therefore they have not prospered, and all their flock is scattered."
(Jeremiah 10:21)

How bad do things have to get before God calls you "stupid!"? Evidently, the leaders of Israel had reached that point! Jeremiah conveys the blunt message to them in chapter 10. What's the source of their stupidity? They haven't looked to God for guidance (they "do not inquire of the LORD"). The result is two-fold: they have not prospered, and they've lost their flock. Historically, this passage alludes to the Babylonian Exile, where so many Israelites were forceably taken to a foreign land for close to 70 years.

This got me thinking: How often do I "inquire of the LORD"? My profession is shepherding! You'd think I'd do this on a consistent basis... but do I? To be honest, probably not enough. And I'm not just talking about "prayer time" (though I could always improve in that area!). What about before I call or visit someone? Before I study or write my sermon? Before preparing for and leading youth group? Before spending time with my kids? Before communicating with Jody? Before choosing to spend my money? How might my day be different if I intentionally sought God?

PRAYER: I don't want to be a "Lone Ranger," Lord. Lead, guide, instruct, and discipline me as you see fit. AMEN.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The gift of BLUSH!

"They acted shamefully, they committed abomination; yet they were not at all ashamed, they did not know how to blush."
(Jeremiah 8:12)

"Fair complexioned" folks like myself have a hard time hiding it when we blush. Our light skin seems to 'radiate with rouge' when embarrassment comes upon us. It's just the way God made us.

Reading Jeremiah 8 this morning, I discovered the primary reason God created blushing - it's an indication that one recognizes shame! The people of Judah were being scolded (again) by God via Jeremiah because of their sinful ways. "And they couldn't even blush because of it," says God. It's as if blushing is a gift from God that allows us to recognize when we're in a "compromising situation" (or at least a situation where one should be embarrassed!).

Could it be that God finds blushing "charming" and "endearing" - because He knows that means we're aware of the situation!?! Then we need to rely on the Holy Spirit to lead us out of that situation and into right action.

PRAYER: I don't usually think of blushing as a 'gift,' Lord... but please don't let my heart be so callous that I ever fail to blush. Keep my soul connected to Your Spirit so I always know wright & wrong. Then help me to follow the right! AMEN.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A New Kind of WHAT?!?!?

"Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, remove the foreskin of your hearts, O people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem."
(Jeremiah 4:4)

When God called Abraham to follow Him... promising to make Abe the "father of a great nation"... God also asked him (and all males) to circumcise themselves, as a sign of their distinctiveness. For centuries, the Jewish people did this. Removing the "excess" skin from one particular area of their body, as a symbolic reminder that they are to be a people "set apart." Granted, it's a visible reminder that only they see... but a reminder, nonetheless.

Fast-forward to the time of Jeremiah. God knows the people have gone astray - in a major way. They've lost their distinctiveness. They've forgotten what it means to not only be faithful to god, but loving, kind, & generous to one another. God, therefore, calls for a new kind of circumcision: the heart! Biologists will tell us that there's no "extra skin" covering our hearts... but back in Biblical times the heart was seen as the center of a person's will. It was not only the home of feelings, but also thoughts and decisions. God wants the people to rid themselves of anything that gets in the way of their entire being being able to follow the LORD.

Once we get past the initial uncomfortableness of thinking about circumcision in a "devotional context," it's fascinating to me to imagine how distinctive we Christians can actually be. Few people ever see a man's circumcision (and rightly so!)... but if/when they do, there's no doubt about it! It's easy to tell when a person is circumcised. How cool if the same could be said about our hearts!?! What if people "could tell" that our hearts were circumcised to God? What if we, as Christians, loved others in such a way that everyone who came in contact with us just knew something was different? What if our lives were so aligned with God's will that others "could tell"? I dare say this world would be a heck of a better place.

So what are we waiting for?

PRAYER: Remove the foreskin from my heart, Lord. I want to live my life the way You created me to! May everyone be able to see You through my heart and my life. AMEN.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


"Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God."
(Hebrews 13:16)

The US Stock Market has dropped significantly in the past 5 trading days. The world economy is plummeting. Trillions of dollars have been "lost" (on paper, at least) this past week. Oil & Gas prices remain high. Groceries have become even more expensive here in Hawaii. Money is scarce all around. In times like this, it's easy to want to "circle the wagons" and focus solely on ourselves... making sure we can provide for our own needs & the needs of our family.

And yet, I believe we were created to be in relationship with each other. We probably could simply rely on ourselves (or many of us here in the US could, at least). But God doesn't want us to live that way. "Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have," says the writer of Hebrews. There's a fundamental shift in one's thinking when one moves from "self-preservation" to "others-centered." It's the difference between a scarcity mentality and an abundance mentality. Times may be rough, but we still have enough to share. Maybe now, especially, we have to be intentional on doing just that!

PRAYER: Keep my eyes open, LORD, to see how I can share with those aound me. Help me to do so with a cheerful and grateful heart, not at all begrudgingly. AMEN!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

No One Like Him

"Before (Josiah), there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him."
(2 Kings 23:25)

I really like Josiah! Crowned at age 8, when he was 26 some workers discovered an ancient manuscript in the Temple (turns out it was the book of Deuteronomy!). Upon reading, he realized they hadn't been living the way God intended them to. So Josiah did two amazing things: 1) Called the whole nation to repent and change their ways... 2) Removed every obstacle that competed with worship of God. It was a powerful turn of events. In fact, the author of 2 Kings said there was never a king like him, before or since (which is saying a lot, remembering the great Kings David & Solomon!).

I know Josiah didn't do those things to be considered "The #1 King of All-Time"; he did them because of his love for God. He turned with "all his heart, soul, & might" (maybe that's where Jesus got this expression when asked years later about the greatest commandment?!). What about me? Can I say that I've given God all my heart, soul, & might? Sometimes, yes. All the time, no. 2 Kings 23 lists specific actions Josiah took to rid the nation of anything that got in the way of worshipping God (check out v.5-20!). Have I been able to do that in my life? I'm not too worried about needing to "cleanse the world" of anything and everything that I think competes with worship of God - just anything & everything in MY LIFE (ie. desire to watch Sunday morning football, being 'too busy' during weekday mornings to spend time in prayer, thoughts that focus more on my desires than on God's, etc.). I've got a long way to go. But then again, it's not about being recognized as "The #1 pastor of all-time." It's about being faithful. Thanks, Josiah, for that insight. AMEN.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Parenting Reconsidered

"Manasseh was 12 years old when he began to reign; he reigned 55 years in Jerusalem. He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD."
(2 Chronicles 33:1-2a)

The books of Kings and Chronicles list the line of succession of the monarchs of Israel & Judah. The author introduces the kings by name, age, length of reign, parents, and whether they did good or evil in the sight of God. Here's the bio on Manessah:
  • MANESSAH - 12 years old - 55 year reign
  • Dad: Hezekiah - Mom: Hephzibah
  • Bottom line of reign: Did evil in the sight of God
I know we no longer live in a monarch age, but it still blows my mind that the "keys to the kingdom" could be handed over to a 12 year-old boy. Unfortunately, he wasn't interested in pursuing God's heart. Not only are we told up front that he "did evil," later in verse 9 we're informed that he "misled Judah and its inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that they did more evil than the nations whom the LORD had destroyed before the people of Israel." Wow.

This got me thinking about the role of parents. I understand that the reason he was king is that his father (the former king) had died. So now it's just he and "Mom"... but what about those first 12 years? And Hezekiah was one of the few kings who actually "did what was right in the sight of the LORD" (2 Chronicles 29:2). Was Dad too busy being king that he didn't have/make time to raise his own son?

My children are 10 and 13 years old (almost 11 & 14). If something were to happen to me and I wasn't around anymore, how would they fare? Would they walk in the ways of God? I sure hope and pray so! In fact, that's one of the prayers I pray regularly for them. I also have trust that Jody would continue to be a positive and faith-full influence to them.

The bottom line is, how am I raising my children to be the man & woman of God they were created to be? I think we've got off to a good start, but there's still more opportunity to guide, direct, teach and inspire.

PRAYER: Lord God, thank you for my children! I see such hope, joy, creativity & promise in them (some times more than others!). Guide us as Jody and I seek to be faithful parents. Draw them closer to You, as You draw them into a lifetime relationship. AMEN.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

An Indestructible Life

"It is even more obvious when another priest arises, resembling Melchizedek, one who has become a priest, not through a legal requirement concerning physical descent, but through the power of an indestructible life."
(Hebrews 7:15-16)

Melchizedek - the most important king/priest that no one has ever heard of! His original story is found in Genesis 14:17-20... but here in Hebrews he gets a bit more "PR." Mel was the King of Salem (which means "peace" - ie. Shalom) and a priest. He blessed Abraham & Abe gave him the first ever-recorded tithe. In Hebrews, the author lifts Mel up as one of the most memorable high priests. Not only that, but alludes to the Messiah as coming from the "order of Melchizedek" (7:11). Jesus came into his kingship, not through royal lineage (well, at least not in human terms). He wasn't given a kingdom on a silver platter. Instead, writes the author, he gained his authority through an "indestructible life."

What an amazingly accurate way to describe Jesus' time on earth - an indestructible life. All that he did, said, thought and lived out was done with integrity, grace & power. He was all about living the faith of his ancestors ("Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob," etc.) - living into the promise of the Old Testament. This doesn't mean Jesus didn't get mad, frustrated or upset. Of course he did! But he never let those feelings get in the way of following God's will for his life.

An indestructible life. WE'RE not called to be Jesus, of course. But what a goal to shoot for - living an indestructible life. If we try to do this on our own - by our own "goodness," power & integrity, we'll fail miserably. You can count on that! Human beings constantly let others down - even pastors, church leaders, & other people of faith. But if we look to Jesus to be our strength... if we try to model our lives after his... if we open our hearts to be guided by his Spirit... we'll be on our way! And in the grand scheme of things, a life that's been committed to Jesus is indeed "indestructible," as it's bound for eternal fellowship with God.

PRAYER: I have no illusions of any personal grandeur, God. All the good that I am and do comes from you. Thank you for the model of Jesus' indestructible life. Keep me faithful to your call in my life. Forgive and restore me when I fall and when I fail. AMEN.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


"The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim lierty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the LORD'S favor..."
(Isaiah 61:1-2)
Many of us will remember that this is the passage Jesus preached on when he came back to his hometown of Nazareth, early in his ministry (it was also the sermon that caused his townsfolk to want to throw him off a cliff!).  Isaiah 61.  God's servant gives his "mission statement":
  • Bring good news to the oppressed
  • Bind up the brokenhearted
  • Proclaim liberty to the captives
  • Proclaim release to the prisoners
  • Proclaim the year of the Lord's favor
So this got me thinking... how does this match up with my "mission statement" (and I hear Tom Cruise's voice, from "Jerry Maguire," saying, "It's not a memo, it's a MISSION STATEMENT!!!")?  Well, since I was instrumental in shaping the vision/purpose/journey statements of Aiea UMC, I'll use those:
  • PURPOSE: Knowing, Loving & Serving God
  • JOURNEY: Building a life-changing community that follows Jesus through worship, relationships, spiritual growth & service.
As I pondered the two, I noticed a big difference.  Isaiah 61 is focused squarely on people who are suffering (oppressed, brokenhearted, captives & prisoners)... while ours at AUMC only tangentially mentions a "life-changing" community (which should minister to the suffering, granted).  Hmmm... that got me thinking some more... how much of my focus (or our focus as a church) is on those who are suffering?  The first 2 categories (oppressed & brokenhearted) may be internal conditions that are harder to see than captivity & prison.  I'd hope our worship & ministreis meet some of the needs that oppressed & brokenhearted have.  But are we doing anything for the captives & priosners?  Not really.

I don't necessarily think the prophet Isaiah was making a universal mission statement for all of us to adopt.  However, it does give us all an opportunity to focus more on those who are suffering.  Bart Campolo has talked about allowing our hearts to break from the things that break God's heart!  So may it be!

PRAYER: Give me eyes to see a world in pain... a heart to feel compassion... and strength to go to those in need with grace, hope & good news!  AMEN.