Chuckin’ Chunks of Ice

Today, I went out in the snow with my grandson.  We shoveled and made snow angels.  He let me pull him around on a sled.  We threw ice chunks up in the air to watch them splat on the ground.  He laughed and laughed.

Here’s how the game went.  I would take a piece of slushy, crunchy ice that fell off my car.  You know what I’m talking about, dirty, gray, nasty pieces that build up in the wheel wells as you drive.  The temperatures are perfect for making them formed enough to stick together but when the hit the driveway they explode.  Anyway, I’d take a piece and throw it way up into the air.  We would watch it as it came back down and then clap and laugh as it splatted.  Then he would grab a piece and try to do the same thing.  Now you have to understand, he’s twenty months old.  He tried so hard.  He reach back as far as he could, holding tight to his missile.  Then, with all the might he could muster, throw the ice a foot in front of him, or throw it in his own face, or throw it behind him.  A couple of times it never even left his hand.  At first he would look at me, a shadow of disappointment crossing his innocent face.  But I would clap and laugh, tell him how good he did, shout and praise him.  Then we’d do it again.

Two things I saw as we played in the snow.  Two things he loved that we shared.  He loved watching how powerful I am and he loved trying to be like me.  I am not strong or amazing but I loved showing him how things fly, how they explode on impact.  And, I loved watching him try so hard, pour himself into something so completely.

We share that with God.  Men and women of faith find joy in watching the Creator show off His power, His sovereignty, His presence.  We want to see those moments when He does what only He can do.  And then, we try to be like Him.  We love beyond our ability.  We serve when no one gives us praise.  We pray like we’re at war.

And when our attempts fall flat, seem so pitiful by comparison, we hear Him cheering us on.  His joy poured out on us for our efforts to be like Him because dad’s know.

Their kids will grow.

The Year of Jubilee

In the Old Testament there was a law that every fifty years all debts were cancelled, all slaves were set free.  It was supposed to be a time of great celebration.  But it was lost.

It was a pretty “normal” practice for those that would get themselves into debt to pay off the amount owed by becoming someone’s slave.  There were regulations written down for how it was supposed to work, amount owed years till Jubilee, stuff like that.  But, the wealthy of the land forgot about it.  Owed money meant slave for life.

Satan has taken this attitude toward people all over this world.  “You sold your body for that moment of pleasure.  You sold your heart for what was promised.  You gave away your birthright as children of the King to have your own way.  Now you’re mine.”  And we go through our days never expecting victory, never expecting freedom.

I’m just one small guy.  I don’t know how it all works.  I don’t know what year it is on the Jewish calendar.

But in Jesus name, I’m calling for a year of Jubilee.

God has set me free.  The debt I owed to satan and the weight of the condemnation he sets over me is cancelled.  Captives, slaves are no longer bound to him.  I am no longer bound to him.

And I know this, I speak with the authority of God Himself because He never created us for slavery to addiction, He never designed us to live for another.  He spoke us, each one of us, into existence for freedom, for joy.  He brought us from our mothers to live for Him and there is no greater freedom than this.

We just have to live it.

“Train Up A Child”

How many really like to train?

I know many people that like to work out, that’s not what I mean.  Working out is further developing what is already there.  It can be showing off, to yourself or to others, just how far you’ve come.  Training, at least what I think is being referred to here, is taking someone who doesn’t know anything, who is terrible at something, and helping them get good at it.

That’s the part that I hate.

I know this will come as a shock to you (unless you’ve seen me play) but music is hard work for many of us.  I don’t hear a lead once and then play it flawlessly.  I don’t hear it and play it twenty times and play it flawlessly.  I have to practice over and over and over and over.

As I think about this, I realize I am borrowing some from Freedom Ministries (if you haven’t heard of it, it is well worth checking into –

I have played with those who get frustrated with me because I don’t just “get it”.  I have to hear it, play it, hear it again, play it again.  It takes forever.

Where do you think God falls on this spectrum?  What I see from scripture is a God who says we need training.  We need discipline.  We need grace.  “The fruit of His Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control,” words that all convey the type of God He is and how He sees us.

Do you feel like you are “getting it”?  Are you doing life “right”?  Have you arrived at some level of spiritual perfection?

Me neither.

Remember, we are His children.  We can fail, try again and fail again and we’re still His.

Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

I’ll keep practicing but I think I’ll let God worry about my perfection.  He’s my dad. His opinion is the only one I have to answer to.

And He loves me.

Joy Comes with the Morning

A catch phrase, the lyric of a song, a promise for each new day, “Joy comes…”

I still remember the pastor from long ago who told me, “Remember Matt, it’s always darkest before it gets black.”  I was complaining to him about a series of unfortunate events in my life (a running theme for me it would appear).  He wanted to remind me that things could be worse, to offer some perspective on my outlook and dealing with the life God gave.  He succeeded in only making me angry with him for not commiserating with me in my time of need.  Silly, silly man.  Pearls before swine.

Our expectation with this life is that things will be joyful, that we will be happy, content.  We are shocked and angered when it doesn’t turn out that way.  Somehow, we are deluded into believing that we deserve more than what we have.  God has failed in his agreement with us when we find ourselves in difficult, sometimes even horrific situations.  So we rant and shake our fists at the heavens to demand his blessing, coerce his movement on our behalf and our further incensed when our prayers go unanswered.  But are they.

The title phrase comes from Psalm 30, an excellent chapter to read.  It talks about being saved from the depths, from his enemies, from the pit.  These are all things that we can relate to.  Where it gets sticky is the part where he talks about being secure.  “When I felt secure, I said, ‘I will never be shaken.'”  David (the writer of this Psalm) credits his troubles to God hiding “his face” from him.  We don’t want to think of our troubles as an answer, a furnace to remove the dross of our security.  “I’d like to remain secure, thank you very much.”  But we aren’t secure.

Joy comes when our security is firmly placed on the only thing that is secure, the Heighth and Majesty, the Power and Glory that is our God.  Our foundations are shaken and we cry out in pain.  But if we never come to lose ourselves, our securities, we will never find God.  And if we can never quit blaming him for all that we perceive as wrong, and begin thanking Him for who He is and what He is always doing, we will never know joy.

Funny to me that in the English I hear a play on words.  “Joy comes with the morning.”  Joy comes with the mourning.