The Sacrifice

Deuteronomy – the second giving of the law.  We get bored with books like this.

I’m not bored.

Chapter 13 talks about the possibility that someone might try to entice you to follow other Gods.  It may be a false prophet, but it may be the wife you love, your son or your daughter.  Should they try, there is only one choice, they have to die.

On paper, this sounds fine.  Nothing comes between me and my God.  But then I hold my beautiful grandchildren.  I laugh and feel that sense of pride as I watch my sons becoming men.  I kiss my wife and talk with her.  Should they lead me from my God, could I kill them?  Could I be the first to pick up a stone and throw it at them?

I don’t think so.

That’s probably what happened, what happens.  Something has a little more wow, a little more yeah than the stuffy gods of our religions and we move, imperceptibly at first but our hearts are drawn away.  And we would never confront this with a ferocity that would kill those we love.  

So God is sacrificed.  But in the end, so are our children.

I’m not trying to get you to kill your kids.  I think what God, through Moses, is trying to say is that I need to take it seriously how I lead them, that I lead them.  The same admantiam will that would stone my child is what I need to sacrifice my self, my flesh.  The same ferocity that attacks the sin in others is what I need to attack the sin in me.

Either I lay my life down or I lay theirs down.

I look at my body, my finances, my talents and it is obvious that I am no paragon of self-discipline.  But the blessing is, I’m not dead yet.  And God is calling me.  Calling all of us.

“He is no fool who give what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”  Jim Elliot

You Don’t Deserve It

I recently listened to a man singing along with a patriotic country song.  Knowing firsthand some of the character and attributes of this person, my first thought was, “you don’t deserve the sacrifice they gave.”

Not very Christ-like was I.

It got me thinking.

Who has the gall to say that they deserve to have someone else sacrifice their life for them?  Can the president of a country truthfully say that the lowest scum should die in his place?  Can a movie star say that of a prostitute?  Can a CEO say that of a drug addict?

No.  Though some might, no one ever should.

And who would have the audacity to say to a mother, “your son died for me but I don’t like it.  I want your other son to die for me.”

Don’t we just accept that we don’t deserve to have a soldier die for our freedom?  Don’t we intuitively know that what they’ve done can never be repaid, should never be taken for granted?

Then I hear the argument about a loving God making it so difficult to come into His kingdom.  “Why can’t there be multiple paths to God?”

The gall!  The audacity!

We don’t deserve what He did.  I don’t.

I certainly don’t want to ask Him for some greater sacrifice, some greater display of His love for me.

There isn’t one, by the way.  And I don’t want to stand in front of Him one day with the temerity to say He should have done better.

Hell will be justified.

A little bit of chicken-fried

I really don’t mean any disrespect to the Zac Brown Band, but I take issue with this song.

For those of you who are not familiar:

A little bit of chicken fried
Cold beer on a Friday night
Pair of jeans that fit just right
And the radio on
I love to see the sun rise
See the love in my woman’s eyes
Feel the touch of a precious child
And know a mother’s love

I’m not into country. I like some of the songs and really don’t like some of them. I heard this one lately and got kind of angry.

I thank god for my life
For the Stars and Stripes
May freedom forever fly, let it ring
Salute the ones who died
The ones who give their lives
So we don’t have to sacrifice
All the things we love

Like our chicken fried…..

That’s where I get mad.

As a veteran, I want to think that the sacrifices of our soldiers, the greater sacrifices that have been laid down over the years, mean more than a chance to have chicken and beer. I would want the lives that were paid to purchase more than an opportunity to listen to the radio and watch sunrises.

Then I think of Jesus sacrifice. Did He die so that I could be happy, be good, be content, be safe? I think it was more than that. I think He wanted an army of saints, a bride for Him to love, a way to touch the world He created.

Am I living that?

Or do I just want some fried chicken?

Retirement

Just when I think I’m getting over myself, I get hit with something else.  I’m reading in Leviticus and saw today that it was a stipulation for Priests serving in the Temple to retire by age fifty.  What, that’s ridiculous!  My inner response was incredulous, but deep down, it was fearful of God asking that of me.  Do you want me to “retire”, to not lead anymore, to not play or worship?

Understand, if God ever asks that of me, I would totally know why.  I’ve been a mess and remain a mess.

In that moment of fear, I felt His hand on me, “no son, not yet.”  

I don’t know about you.  But, if I’m eighty and can still play and dance and sing, that’s what I want to be doing.  I want people to see me on stage and know that my love for God went beyond looking cool, being a star, trying to get the girls.  And yes, all you worship leaders out there, we’ve all had some mixture of those motivations over the years, secret’s out.  When all that is laid aside, when those dreams and desires are gone and burned up, I want people to see that I, at the core of my being, was completely, certifiably, irreversibly insane for my Jesus.  I want them to know that His sacrifice is what I live for, His mission is my calling, His love is what I share.

I’m fifty-one.  And just getting started!