King David's sin brought a crushing blow from God. God lit David up and then broke him down.
In Psalm 51, David asks God to let the bones you have broken rejoice.
Not sure that I have ever heard anyone describe God as one who breaks bones. It doesn't sound very loving or God-like. If a church is too full, preaching on this could probably free up a few chairs.
Nearly a year passed between the time that David committed adultery and him owning up to his sin. That seems like a long time to me - an entire year. Well, reading Psalm 51, you get the sense that it was not a "slide back into my routine" kind of year. David was able to take care of all the external "problems" of his sin - he had Uriah killed, etc...However, you get the sense that David could not put to death the weight on his heart and mind.
Now I have heard some say that David's heart grew hard during this time, but I believe that David experienced inner turmoil more than a hard heart. No doubt he tried to put the past in the past, but was unable to do so. The guilt was too much.
God could have left him in that place. God did not. God loved David too much. God sent Nathan.
God crushed David. He broke him down and humbled him. God breaks bones. He would not let David stay proud, hard, or troubled.
When we live in sin, or refuse to humbly take hold of God's grace, God will break our bones. We will experience the misery and pain that are embedded in such an act. The pain involved in a broken bone is hard to ignore. It makes you want to get it fixed... quick! Who better to fix it than the one who skillfully broke it?
The setting of a bone is usually more painful that the break. Confession is usually more painful than the guilt of the sin. Confession is agreeing with God that something is broken and acknowledging that God is the only one who can do anything about it. Through confession we can be renewed, cleaned, restored, and our bones that were broken will be set and rejoice. Just ask David.
Psalm 51:7-12 (ESV)
me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8Let me hear joy and
let the bones that you have broken rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my
and blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me aclean
heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from
and take not your Holy Spirit from me. 12Restore to me the joy of
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
This week at Northern Hills we started our new series in the book of Ruth. We have titled the series Live Expectantly - God is at Work. This week we started at the very end of the story of Ruth - Jesus. We wanted to see how the story/events of Ruth's life are still making an impact today through Jesus. When Ruth was in Moab after the death of her husband, and so much tragedy - who would have ever dreamed what God had in store.
Below, in 25 words or less, here is the first of six messages in the series:
Money is the most unsatisfying of possessions. It takes away
some of the cares, no doubt; but it brings with it quite as many cares as it
takes away. There is trouble in getting of it. There is anxiety in the keeping
of it. There is temptation in the use of it. There is guilt in the abuse of it.
There is sorrow in the loosing of it. There is perplexity in the disposing of
it. - J.C. Ryle
Each Memorial Day I know of several people who visit the cemetery to pay respects to loved ones, to remember and honor those who have died. Many people who visit grave sites on Memorial Day also visit at other times during the year. It is honoring and a way to keep a memory alive. Nothing wrong with doing this in my book.
I often think about going, but I never do. It may be that it is too painful. Maybe I am lazy. Maybe 22 years is not long enough. Maybe, it is because I know that he is not in the grave. Maybe...
It is not because I did not love my dad - he was awesome!
It is not because I have forgotten him. In fact I especially think of him around Memorial Day because of the Indianapolis 500. Mom would always let Dad and me stay home from church on the Sunday before Memorial day so that we could listen to the race on radio. (Back in the day it was not shown live on TV) So... I continue to do this. Each Memorial day is race day for this son.
I think of dad almost every time I have an early morning cup of coffee. He loved coffee and always had a thermos full ready for the day.
I think of my dad each time I get a whiff of carburetor cleaner. If you have ever smelled the stuff you will know what I mean - it is awesome.
I think of my dad...
when my car breaks down because he could fix it
and really miss him as I watch my girls grow
when I read the book of Daniel. He was far from a Biblical Scholar but he loved the stories in Daniel.
when I put on jeans and a t-shirt. It was good enough for him and it is good enough for me.
when I hear country music. (OK - he wasn't perfect)
when I see Harley Davidson motorcycles
and wonder if he would be proud of me
when I smell cigarette smoke. (Not really a good memory)
when I drink a big glass of tea
when I think of heaven
as I work with commitment and grit
when I see Hot Wheels (He gave me my first ever track and cars)
Maybe someday I will go and see the white cross on top of his grave. Maybe. But until that day, I will remember him each day.
Reductionist glasses give a marginalized view of God.
A couple of days ago I heard one radio host talking about a sports issue and he said something like, "we try to reduce it down to something simple, and it will never be a simple."
For years I have tried to help my daughters become critical thinkers by helping them see that most things in life are complex. I have encouraged them to "add to" rather than "subtract from" complicated issues.
However, most people like to cut things down to size so that it will fit with their lifestyle or beliefs. As it relates to God, the saying "In the beginning, God created man in his own image, then man returned the favor..." seems accurate.
How do you view God? Life seems to teach us to look for less, not more. "Taste Great, Less Filling" is the too common theology of the day. Our political framework is built upon flimsy sound bites that look sturdy to those wearing reductionist glasses.
If you look at the immigration issue through reductionist glasses, then the solution is to build a wall and close the border; or let everyone in; or let illegal immigrants have immediate citizenship. Would any of these ideas by themselves work? Doubtful, because the issue is complex!
Terrorism? Simple, we will invade a country start a war and prevent future attacks. Simple, we will be passive and do nothing so that we will not provoke future attacks. Simple, we will march and demand world peace.
Education Crisis? Simple we will require standardized testing to hold teachers and school districts to higher standards. Simple, we need more money! Simple, we need to allow school choice. Simple, we need to get back to the basics. Simple, we need to use new teaching methods that lead to personalized discovery.
Abortion? Homelessness? Poverty? Taxes? Health Care? Discrimination? Divorce?
Are bumper stickers right? Know Jesus Know Peace. No Jesus No Peace. Is it really that simple?
Dr. Albert Mohler said, The god of reductionistic theology is nothing more than a dehydrated,
domesticated and demythologized version of God. It compromises the
‘omnis’ of God to make him something less than Omni. (Source)
Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck drew
a distinction between pagan and biblical thought. Bavinck said that modern (and ancient Greek)
thinkers attempted to find the “essence” of a thing, that which makes a
thing uniquely what it is, bysubtraction. To discover the
“essence” of a pencil, we subtract its color, its size, its shape — all
of which may vary without changing the nature of the thing and all of
which may describe something other than a pencil. (There might be a
red apple as well as a red pencil, a six-inch slug as well as a
six-inch pencil, etc.) When we have subtracted all the variables, what
we have left is the “essence” of the pencil, what might be called “pure
pencilness.” (Of course, what we really have left is nothing at all.)
Scripture, by contrast, describes the essence of a thing by addition.
Only when we know the fullness of a thing, all of its attributes, do we
really know its uniqueness and “essence.” God’s “essence” is not some
“bare minimum” of deity, or some “basic attribute” from which all the
other attributes can be derived. Instead, the “essence” of God is the
fullness of all his attributes — Peter Leithart, The Kingdom and the Power, pp. 93-94. (Thanks John)
Add to your understanding of God by subtracting the aforementioned glasses.
If you have the blues, guard them with your life. If they are stolen away you may lose the incredible life song they create.
While I was driving back to my office yesterday I was listening to a local sports talk show. Leading into their next segment they played the song "I Can't Dance" by Genesis. One line in the song stuck with me throughout the day. "Young punk spilling beer on my shoes, fat guys talking to me trying to steal my blues."
I am not sure that I am being true to the overall meaning of the song, but that line made me think about how hard we try - to get rid of our blues. We allow them to be stolen away (with minimal if any resistance), by thieves with the names: positive thinking; medication; therapy; minimization; blame; apathy; formulaic living; religion; addictive escape.
What a shame. Some of the best music of all time has come from the blues. In the Bible they are called laments.
Life situations that lead to the blues can be the result of sin. However, according to Psalm 34:19 "Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all."
Tough times come to everyone. Dealing with the resulting blues in our own way and our own power removes the opportunity for God to write a meaningful song upon our soul. However, when we patiently (not passively - there is a difference), and obediently wait, we experience God's loving mercy, his deliverance, and a deeper passion and faith for God. Eventually, it all makes sense.
I am not sure why that reality never really hit me before, but it came to mind yesterday. As someone who is adopted it was a really cool moment and another way that Jesus understands me and identifies with me. I have always thought of my adoption as a wonderful event and one that I am eternally grateful for. For some people who are adopted, they think just the opposite. Maybe the realization that Jesus understands, would give them a new perspective. Maybe. Hopefully.
That is Jesus. He gets us. He knows us. He identifies with people who were adopted and people who hurt. He knows what it is like to be poor, abandoned, ridiculed, abused, taken for granted, and mocked. He was homeless and he struggled paying his taxes. Jesus was hungry and thirsty. He was sad, broken hearted, disappointed, and angry. He knows pain, life and death.
Through his life and experiences Jesus truly has empathy for each one of us. His compassion was seen through his serving and through his care for people. However, he did not come to only be able to identify with us and make us feel better. He came to save us!
Jesus came to bring life through his death and resurrection. Jesus came to transform us into new creations. He is the Way the Truth and the Life.