The Scepter

In the book of Esther there is a scene where the chosen bride goes before the king at the risk of her life.  In that kingdom, to go before him uninvited could bring an immediate execution.  She enters and he extends his scepter and she is welcomed into his presence.

I can’t get this picture out of my mind.

I was praying this week and saw it so clearly in my mind.  Only I was Esther.

And I think there are others out there that need to hear this.

I approach God with the idea that I could die, that he could judge me, hate me, reject me.  And in one sense, it’s all true, if I ignore the character, the nature of Jesus, the person of my Father King.

But in the story, you never get the sense of even a moment of hesitation.  It wasn’t like this human king even had to think a bit.  She enters and is accepted.

So am I.  So are you.

It’s not that we don’t deserve the shame we feel, the condemnation, the rejection.  But because of the cross, because of the blood of Jesus that makes us clean, we are accepted without question, without hesitation.

And do we get accepted so that we can go sit in the back and be quiet?  Ha!  Do we get accepted so that we can wait our turn as other “more important” things are dealt with?  Not at all!

In a very real sense, God pauses his usual activity to hear us, to spend time with us.

I don’t know how that works since I’m pretty sure if God took his hands off the universe for a second it would crumble.  But with all that he has to do in this world, his attention shifts dramatically to us, to me.

I know myself to be a fairly silly person, angry and emotional about some pretty trivial things sometimes.  I make requests of God that probably I should be embarrassed to even be thinking about.

But guess what?  Not only does He accept me!  Not only does He listen to me!  He also wants to hear what I’m asking.  He wants to know what I think I need.  And before I can even ask, He is promising me the Kingdom!

So why do I, how can I ignore Him?  Ever?

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  Hebrews 4:16 (ESV)

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Beat Up

Someone I knew posted a video of a dog being smacked around by his owner while others watched and laughed.  I was angry at the abuse but I was rocked to my core.

I’m the dog.

No, I get it.  In my western, nicely appointed ranch house in a quiet neighborhood outside of the city it would be hard to see the abuses heaped on me.  I drive a working car.  I have nice guitars.  I have a good job.

I’m still the dog.

It’s not that I am suffering abuse right now, I guess.  Or that the abuses of my past are rising up to attack me.  I just saw the look on that dogs face and felt every blow that he took.

Why are you hitting me?  What did I do?  I must be bad but I don’t understand.

What makes it worse is that the hand that is on me seems like God’s.

I have these songs to sing that it feels like no one wants to hear.  I have these words that burn in my soul and no platform to speak.  I have this love to give and no one to share it with.  It feels like God mocks me with a message but gives me no one to pour it out on.

REALITY…

I would love to speak before thousands, but my voice is only heard so often by just one.  I sing and some listen.  I love like rain on dry soil, never there to watch the grass turn green, the flowers grow and blossom.

But it is enough.

It is the comparison of Psalm 88 with Psalm 89.

Psalm 88:14  O Lord, why do you cast my soul away?  Why do you hide your face from me?

Psalm 89:14  Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.

Reality…

The punches I feel are real.  The condemnation and hatred come from a very real enemy.  But they are not from my God.  His promises remain true.  His love for me does not falter.  He will prove himself as faithful, no matter what.

My path follows who I believe.

And the abuser, in all cases, will stand before a righteous, Holy God.  And we will give an account for what we believe and what we did with our beliefs.

Reality

Who are you talking to?

The age old argument, turn signals. When to use them, when not?

It seems like it’s a guy thing to use them, sometimes. Ladies lean toward using them all the time, at least that is how it trends in my non-scientific research.

I am on an empty road and need to make a right turn to go home. Turn signal or not. Some say you should, it should be habit. Some say, there is no one there.

Here is my challenge, the reason I am rambling. If we make a habit of communicating when no one is listening, have we done good or harm? If a preacher uses condemnation and guilt to move his congregation but the congregation is asleep, good or bad? The mom that nags, the dad that puts down, you must know that at some point the kids shut you off. No one can take the constant barrage. The hateful teacher, the mean boss, it is only survival to switch off the negativity that flows from them.

The audience, whoever they might be, has a choice. Nuggets of wisdom and life can be found in the most unlikely of places. But, what is lost if we speak to those who can’t hear us?

Maybe it’s time to let God speak in their lives. Maybe it’s time to open our hands, take our will off the table, let others speak for us.

Maybe it’s time to not use the turn signal.

What’s On Your Radio?

Every once in a while, I catch my sons listening to some pop, techno crap.  It makes me so mad I could scream.  I have taught them to like good music that takes more than a nice computer to produce.  Then other days, their listening to some country song about a girl in tight jeans, “gettin’ all tangled up”, or drinking the night away.

I know!  Makes me sound like some old guy.  But the truth is, I like good music, from all eras, all genres.  I like Rap, classical, country, punk, techno, blues, and many others.  The problems I have are more with what is being said and whether any thought and effort was put into the music.

I have heard many well meaning preachers, radio hosts, talk show people and counselors that are saying things that sound so good, so biblical.  Then I was reading in 1 Kings 13 about the man of God from Judah.  God had told him to deliver his message and then return a different way home.  He was not supposed to stop to eat or drink along the way.  But an old man of God lied to him, got him to do the wrong thing and he died because of it.

I think there are people who want to help.  They want to make things better.  They want to deal with problems.  But their words are not from God.

Check this:

In the bible, what does it tell us to fear?  Just God.  Never says to fear homosexuality or political figures.  What does it tell us to hate? Sin, evil, but never people, never relationships.  Are the songs we listen to telling us to devalue women?  Are they telling us to put ourselves first and others second?  Do they remove God from our lives or make Him greater?

Everyone, and I mean everyone should be weighed on whether they sound like God or the world.  Whether their voice has the tone of scripture or the condemnation of satan.

Because…in the end…we’ll follow what we listen to.

Who’s Talking Now?

I was looking at Matthew 12 where Jesus’ disciples are walking through the fields and eating the grain.  The pharisees pipe up, “Not Lawful!  Bad disciples, bad Jesus.”

How did they even see them doing this?  Why did they notice something that seems so meaningless?

Here’s my theory:

They were followers too.

Jesus had His disciples, twelve of them.  He also had many others that listened to Him and followed Him.  But there were others that walked along, following every action, every word.  They didn’t want to learn.  They wanted to tear apart.

Do you see this in your own life?  You start going in a good direction only to find that those around you are tearing you down.  You hear the condemning truth of how impossible your dreams are, how foolish you are, how you’ve failed so many times before.  They seem to be coming out of the woodwork, didn’t even know that they were there until you hear their voices.  “Bad!  Unlawful!  Not Christian!  Not Holy!”  They seem so mature.  They talk a good game.  They sound like they have life, living, God all figured out.

Then Jesus breaks in.  Man wasn’t made for the laws but laws were made for man.  God sees you as more important than rules.  God, CREATOR GOD, says, “There is therefore no more condemnation…”

Are you following Him?  Are you listening to Him?  Be in His word!  Listen to Godly counsel!  Pray!  And LIVE!

Those “clanging cymbals” are silenced by a “still, small voice.”