Tuesday, August 30, 2011, 09:17 AMAug. 30th, 2011
Posted by Kermit
Posted by Kermit
Then David got up from the ground, washed himself, put on lotions, and changed his clothes. He went to the Tabernacle and worshiped the Lord. After that, he returned to the palace and was served food and ate. 2 Samuel 12:20
This morning I’m taken with the question: how did David “get back up”? How do we get back up after we have been hurt, devastated, defeated? How did Abraham Lincoln continue to seek public office after so many initial defeats? How do the people so personally affected by 9/11 get up every day? How do people get back up from the destruction of flood waters from Irene or the Mouse? How do people “get back up”? Is it merely a matter of “self-will”, “mind over matter”, “pull yourself up by your bootstraps”, “shake it off”, “get back on the horse”? These all seem so trite, and when I’m in the middle of some difficulty, they seem meaningless and powerless to propel me anywhere but back to bed! Anyone ever feel like that?
I think there are a few clues in David’s response. Just remember what has happened to him. At the height of his political and military prowess, he commits adultery with a neighborhood woman, then has her husband murdered because he won’t go along with David’s ill-fated attempt to cover up the fiasco. When later he is confronted by God’s prophet, he confesses his sin, repents of his actions, but begins to bear the consequences of his actions – the death of his beloved son. How does anyone recover from this parent’s worst nightmare? We know that he did, because David returned to be a revered, respected and successful king the rest of his life. Though his family continued to bear with him the consequences of his stupid actions, he returned to a successful life following this “knocked down” episode in his life. I see these actions as being helpful.
In the midst of his troubles, he fell on his face before God. While his son was sick and dying, David spent every day and night without food, and face down before God, begging God to change His mind. God didn’t, and in spite of that, David didn’t run from God, or fight with God, or accuse God or blame God, or reject God; no, he prayed and fasted, and tried to maintain his faith while in the midst of his mess. I see so many people in the middle of despair, who immediately want to blame someone, or something, or even God. I know God can take it, but it seems misguided to me. David’s action remind me that even in the middle of my own messes; I dare not lose sight of what sustains me, and who loves me the most.
When the child dies, David gets up, bathes, puts on lotions, changes his clothes, goes to the temple to worship, then returns to his palace and eats. These things sound strange to us, but reveal an important facet of getting up – when the crisis has been survived, then get on about your life – but do so initially by going to worship God, then resuming your duties. I think I needed to see this reminder today; that in the middle and at the end of whatever “knock down” event I’m in; I must maintain my relationship with God. In the middle I must seek for His strength, at the end, I must thank Him for His grace. God is the one that sustains me through it all! Lord, help me today to get back up from this mess I’m in right now. You know its origin, and more so, you know what it’s doing to me. Help me to stay on my face (spiritually at least), and when we get through this; to be grateful and thankful for your grace. I know it’s there, working, healing, and instructing me – but it’s hard right now! Remind me.
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Monday, August 29, 2011, 09:51 AMAug. 25th, 2011
Posted by Kermit
Posted by Kermit
Then David confessed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replied, “Yes, but the Lord has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin. Nevertheless, because you have shown utter contempt for the Lord by doing this, your child will die.” 2 Samuel 12:13-14
This is part of the famous story of King David. If not the most famous and in many ways, most revered of all Israel’s kings, David is quite a study in the human condition. He has rebuilt the nation of Israel into a great military force, he has conquered and returned much of the Promised Land to its rightful owners; Israel. He has even reestablished the religious order, and reinstated healthy religious practices that are producing many positive returns for the faithful followers in the Holy Land.
But, he gets into trouble with his eyes! There is probably more to it than that, but he sees Bathsheba bathing on an adjacent rooftop, lusts after her, calls her to his bed, commits adultery with her, and then to top it off, has her husband killed when he fails to comply with the kings initial attempt to cover up this heinous sin. In the matter of just a few hours, and subsequent days, David goes from being the greatest king ever, to the lowest scumbag on the planet. And one might think that ended his life – and maybe it should have – but this great king rebounds to regain almost all his military and political might; and religious practices continue to advance in spite of his sin. At his lowest, the trusted prophet Nathan (at God’s directive) comes to David and confronts him with his sin. The verse listed above is the end of their exchange.
I am particularly intrigued with the thought; “Yes, the Lord may have forgiven you – but your child will still die.” I could spend extended time thinking about this judgment and this innocent child – why does he have to bear the death of his Father’s stupid sin? How could God kill this innocent child just to teach his dad some tragic lesson? Does God still punish sin this way? On and on. But instead, I want to focus on one other matter.
Many people believe that when we have been forgiven, when our sins have been forgiven, when we honestly repent and confess, and change our ways – the consequences of our sin ought to or have also been erased. This verse and this story seem to indicate otherwise. It can rightly be inferred from this story that though God and Jesus stand ready, willing and able to forgive all our sins – that forgiveness doesn’t necessarily cancel out the consequences our sins cause. I see the reality of this every night I get to spend time at the ND State Penitentiary. Men there understand that yes, God can and does forgive them – but they are still paying a debt as a consequence of their choice.
I’m not sure we “get it” that deeply on the outside. We tend more often to think that when God forgives us – we get off scot free. Maybe sometimes we do – but more likely this story is informative. Maybe God will not kill our offspring – but there will be some way that the penalty for our sins must be paid. Even though I know that Jesus came to pay the penalty for our sins – I wonder if this truth still exists – do we suffer the consequences of our actions? Do we still have to pay the price for our sins? Do we still suffer because of the choices we make? I haven’t got this all figured out yet, but this I know – I want to be more careful to make better choices. I rejoice that Jesus has forgiven me – and if I must still bear the consequences of my choices – I beg for mercy, and pledge to be more faithful.
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Monday, July 11, 2011, 10:42 AMJuly 11, 2011
Posted by Kermit
Posted by Kermit
The Lord says, “Then I will heal you of your faithlessness; my love will know no bounds, for my anger will be gone forever.” Hosea 14:4
I’ve have to finish Hosea. I have found the reading to be interesting, but a bit overwhelming as I consider all the promises of judgment that await unfaithful Israel and Judah. I think I’ve heard the message I need to hear – there are consequences for choices; no matter whether the choices were made thousands of years ago in the Holy Land; or yesterday or today in the quiet recesses of my mind, the dark places of my heart, or in the faithless actions of my life. I cling desperately to the verse for today that God will heal me and His love will not end, and someday his anger with me will be gone forever. I don’t want to minimize His judgment of me and my sins; but neither do I want to over emphasize them either. I know its reality – but I also know of the greater reality of grace. We can’t get lost in the OT, and not forget that Jesus comes with a different message of grace – thus I have to leave Hosea.
I marvel at this man’s message and means. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be asked by God to do something as strange as marry a prostitute. I can imagine though that he was able to do so, not because of his great merit or even his outstanding religious fever – but probably because of an acute awareness of his own brokenness. That same awareness seems better able to outfit me with the ability to identify with those broken folks who come into my path/life – even those who cause me harm, or offend me, or repulse me, or insult me. I am well aware of my humanness, and when I can remember it or be reminded of it; I then am more able to understand that all brokenness and depravity are produced by sin; in me and in others.
God, heal my faithlessness, and that of all others who seek You today. Extend boundless love to me and all others who so desperately need that reminder today. And may my day be void of anger – yours toward me, and mine toward others! Remind me of my broken humanness, and my wholeness through your Holiness! AMEN
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Wednesday, July 6, 2011, 10:10 AMJuly 6th, 2011
Posted by Kermit
Posted by Kermit
I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.’ Hosea 10:12
This verse takes me back to my farm days. Hard or “fallow” ground is ground that has been plowed or broken previously, but not planted for some reason. Maybe to rest and refresh the ground, or maybe because of neglect or inhospitable soils. Israel had been productive and fruitful in former times, but has become fallow because of their unfaithfulness – God through the prophet Hosea says it’s time to break up that fallow ground, plant some seeds of righteous, and begin again to reap a harvest of love.
I need that word today. I have allowed a secret sin to “harden” my heart in certain places/ways. I’m doing very well in most areas of my life – but I continue to struggle with one particular sin. I seem always to need someone or something to be angry with. I believe that to be unhealthy, unproductive, and a direct result of this unabated sin I have so easily tolerated, and now must eradicate. I don’t like the angry me. I know I’m wholly incapable of eliminating any sin, or even breaking up my own fallowness – but I bear a responsibility of receptivity to the “plowing” that God’s Spirit is willing and able to do deep within me. I am open to the process of having my heart broken again by the reality of the consequences of my sin – and I am vowed to make all necessary amends – and I pledge to do my part; first allowing God to do His; and second, doing mine with all diligence, conviction, and fortitude.
I want new seeds of righteousness to be planted in me. I want my life to sprout new fruits of love and loving service. I want to be showered with righteousness from my God. First I have some plowing that needs attention – then we’ll see…to be continued.
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Monday, June 20, 2011, 09:10 AMJune 20, 2011
Posted by Kermit
Posted by Kermit
I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me, more than I want burnt offerings. Hosea 6:6
It’s been a long month of flood fighting, and VBS, and taking a break from this blog. I hope you are surviving (thriving) well, enjoying some parts of this unusual summer, and growing closer to our blessed Savior. For those of you who don’t know, or live far away from Bismarck ND, we are dealing with a record flood event that is ravaging our community and most others up and down the entire Missouri and Mississippi river systems. We have about 800 homes that have been directly affected by flood waters, and many families who have moved out. Most of the southern parts of our city, and a large number of neighborhoods along the river to the north are dealing with record flooding. It will change the landscape and ‘history’ of Bismarck and Mandan forever. There has been no loss of life, and shouldn’t be with this event. And as a good friend of mine reminded me: “Beyond that – it’s all just stuff!” I know it’s not my stuff, but she is right. Most of us have too much stuff and love our stuff too much – and events like this can help us think about our relationship with immaterial ‘things’ at a deeper level. I covet your prayers for those thousands affected all along the river system, and pledge to join you/them in fighting on. Now back to Hosea for a bit.
In this book of ongoing predictions and prophecies of the judgment forecast against wayward Israel; there appear (occasionally) small snippets of hope. Verse 6 is one of those – or at least was for me today. I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me, more than I want burnt offerings. Hosea 6:6. This speaks to me today of how God wants us to live in relationship with Him. I equate offering sacrifices, burnt and otherwise, to the “religious duties, rituals, and habits”, to which many of us have reduced this relationship we claim to have with God through Jesus. Too many of us have settled for a casual keeping of religious practices (making sacrifices and burning offerings) instead of living in a vital and passionate relationship with God that is marked by these two things: Knowing God and Showing Love.
It’s so easy for me to point my finger at the “Pharisees” among us today; the crazy TV preachers caught in some latest scandal, the silly media prophets selling DVD’s of their latest predictions, the wacko predictors of days and times the world will end, or God will judge, or some other such nonsense, and the lazy self-righteous “believer” who is living on some past experience of God or Jesus, who can’t get past that past, and clings to a dying image of what once was, instead of embracing change and welcoming new expressions of a vital faith, a compassionate life, a committed existence that is marked by Knowing God and Showing Love!
It just seems so simple to me to point out how stupid others are, and how dead they have allowed their “faith relationship” to become - - then, as usual, I’m brought to the full awareness that I have my own issues of “Phariseeism”. I’m still struggling against my own human failings that have plagued me for most of my adult/Christian life. I can run around and throw sandbags (showing love), and preach and pray about how others should (Know God) – but my relationship is still crippled by my own sin. I know I can never end my humanness – but I sure wish I could gain some more control over it!
Anyway, today I want to Know God, and Show Love. God help me.
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