Do they need admonishment? May I give it humbly, lovingly and boldly. Do they need encouragement? May I give it faithfully, fervently and fearlessly. Do they need help? May I give it gently, helpfully and empathetically
Like most of you (I presume) I sat aghast yesterday as I saw the scenes unfolding in Washington DC, and in particular, the scenes of rioters overtaking the US Capitol. As someone who is strangely as steeped in decades of US exceptionalism as the rest of you even though I didn’t grow up here, it was stark and troubling. We expect to see scenes like this on our screens from far flung places that don’t have the experience and “sophistication" of generations of democratic experience. It felt like a movie, a far-fetched one with really bad acting. And yet, it wasn’t a movie. It was a mirror.
It turns out that when your time in the Word is always focused on public use, it can actually wear away at the private devotion that you so deeply desire. One of my big fears as a pastor is that I would appear more attentive to God and more attuned to His Spirit in public than I truly am in private. I am taking some days off next week to restart some of that private work.
Friends, we, like Joseph's brothers are sojourners in a strange land, looking for food, hanging on for hope, and occasionally getting the surprise of our lives as we see the redemptive purposes of God being revealed.
Do not quarrel on the way.
On the shields of the Greeks, Neptune was depicted; on the shields of the Trojans, Minerva; because in them they put their confidence, and in their protection deemed themselves secure.… Now, Christ is the insignia of our shields.
What if, the things that happen in our lives aren't actually just for or even about us? What if they exist so that we would know God more, and share the blessing of that knowledge of God with others? This removes the temptation for both pride and bitterness. It lifts our gaze above the dictatorial edicts of a life that is turned in on itself, a life of "why me?" and "why not me?" It creates a life of magnificent self-forgetfulness where every thing that befalls or blesses us serves as an opportunity to both know and to share God.
The short term hope for Israel was that the cup of God's wrath was going to be given to their enemies to drink. The hope for us today is that the cup of God's wrath was handed to our King Jesus. Our hope lies in the fact that even though He knew the terrible cost of drinking from that cup, He drank it dry.
God builds beautiful things out of broken bricks.
He builds a people of promise out of diverse groups of ordinary nobodies united by nothing except the covenant faithfulness that marks their stories, and the ways in which those stories intertwine in God's advancing of a Kingdom on earth.
I am an average parent stacking up lots and lots of average days that are the shaping years of my kids lives. Sue and I want to at least interrupt those days with markers of God's provision, guidance and grace. Believe it or not, these two simple little questions, asked every day, have helped us to place plenty of those markers.