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Integrity in Our Play

This article is a re-post from a campaign/emphasis we did at Hayward Wesleyan called “Ablaze for God.” We did a series of devotionals for that week on a blog you can find here. I wrote a few of those devotionals that I recently re-read and thought I should re-post another one of them here:

“Jeremy, you’re no good when the TV is on.” This is true. When the TV is on in my home, I am drawn to its pulsating orb of light! Maybe because I am an extremely focused person. This is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing when I don’t want to be distracted; a curse when I want to be distracted! Watching television allows me to focus on a mind-numbing task rather than an intense one. Which frustrates my wife and now my daughter [I currently have two daughters] because I often go too far in the mind-numbing department. I become “no good” to anyone (let alone the two [now three] people I love the most in my life!).

So how does one relax from a long day’s work (or long week’s worth of work) without escaping or being destructive? Does God care about our exhaustion and need for “vegging out” and is this something a person ablaze for God person should do?

God gave us something amazing in the act of creation—He stamped His image on us. Much ink has been spilt in understanding what the “image of God” means, but it at least means this: somehow we are like God. Not outside looks, but embedded into our character and passions—our soul. Because God is a creator, we are also mini-creators. We were created by God to re-create.

When I watch TV I am seeking to be renewed and refreshed; I am recreating. What goes wrong is that I recreate in front of the TV too long to the neglect of the women in my life. Integrity in our play should be sourced in a God-inspired act of creating again what was worn out of us in a hard day’s work. In that sense, re-creation serves a divine purpose in that it brings back a sense of wholeness and balance that is taken from work.

More than anyone, children understand the necessary component of play in our lives. My daughter Sari wants me to be involved in her stacking of blocks, reading a book, or poking her finger in my belly button as I lay on the floor watching TV!

On that note, I guess I’d better turn off Seinfeld and get my finger poking revenge!

Via Ablaze for God: a consuming journey to the heart of God


Our Indwelling and Our Infilling

This article is a re-post from a campaign/emphasis we did at Hayward Wesleyan called “Ablaze for God.” We did a series of devotionals for that week on a blog you can find here. I wrote a few of those devotionals that I recently re-read and thought I should re-post one of them here:

What if Culvers came to town? I’ve heard this rumor often in my short time in Hayward. What if the rumor was true and the backhoes started digging, foundations were placed, the building structure went up, the lights were turned on, the food smell was wafting through town, the cashiers were ready, but the doors remained locked? And not just one day, but three days, and then a week, and then almost a month! What were they doing?! Why go through all that trouble to create an amazing restaurant, cook the food, and then NOT open up and share it?! That’s crazy!

Exactly! This would be the difference between being “indwelt” with the Spirit versus being “infilled” with the spirit. The indwelling of the Spirit of God happens when a person opens up their heart to God in faith through Jesus. The Holy Spirit builds a home in the heart of that faith-filled person. It is like the creation and existence of a Culvers restaurant in Hayward. We are all excited that the Spirit just made a new home in the heart of another child of God!

If, however, that is all the faith-filled person did, then that would be a shame. Why? Well, it is a little like having this amazing, Culver-aroma snaking around town, but not being able to eat anything. The Holy Spirit is inside your heart, but nothing happens. Culvers was built to serve greasy hamburgers and tasty frozen treats! The Holy Spirit indwells in order to infill!

The infilling of the Holy Spirit means that he opens up shop in your heart. You become a beacon of light and hope for the world around you because you have allowed the anointing presence of the Spirit of God to shine in your life. Infilling is when you allow the Spirit to coarse through every thought and intention of the heart and live out of His power and strength and not our own. Being infilled with the indwelt Spirit is a lot like unlocking the doors to Culvers and ordering that/those…whatever.

Culvers exists not to be a building, but a provision of food and beverages to Hayward and beyond. The Holy Spirit infills, not to merely indwell, but to take a human heart and be a launching pad of God’s power and presence to Hayward and beyond.

Via Ablaze for God: a consuming journey to the heart of God

Is Living Like Jesus Second Nature?

Jesus calls disciples to keep entering into this shared life of peace and joy as it transforms our hearts, until it’s the most natural way to live that we can imagine. Until it’s second nature. Until we naturally embody and practice the kind of attitudes and actions that will go on in the age to come. A discussion about how ‘to just get into heaven’ has no place in the life of a disciple of Jesus, because it’s missing the point of it all.

Love Wins: A Book about Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived
by Rob Bell on page 179

Doing the Opposite of What’s Expected

Quite often it is difficult to pin down the ethic of the kingdom of God in our everyday lives. Giving concrete examples of living out the Gospel that go beyond the obvious (reading your Bible and praying everyday and being nice to everyone) are hard to come by. Every now and then, I come across examples in our culture that touch us in profound ways and model to us what living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ means.

Below is one such story. You can read about the Gainesville State High School football team and/or you can watch it unfold below:

Fear and Dad’s BB Gun

One of my daughters is experiencing “fear” lately. She will hear a noise while she’s playing with her sister alone in a room and run out into the living room and report to Mom and Dad what she’s “heard” (they’ve got fantastic imaginations as to what those “noises” might be!).

After bedtime, she came out of her room and said: “Dad, I’m scared. I’m really, really scared!” She was inconsolable. I calmly (with a suppressed grin), walked both girls back to their room and I shared with them what I would do when I was afraid. I would pray to God and repeat a Bible verse from Psalms: “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” I talked about how God is taking care of us and that Dad and Mom are here to protect them as well.

Very seriously, my daughter quipped: “Is that why you have a BB Gun, Dad? You can shoot [it] with your BB Gun.”

“Yep,” I said. “That’s what the BB Gun is for!”

Then they fell asleep soundly.

Fully Human, Fully God | The Skit Guys (video)

This is the video that I showed this past Sunday when I preached the sermon: “When Heaven Came Down and Kissed the Earth: John 1:14”

Fully Human, Fully God | The Skit Guys

Teenagers “Belief” in God

Generally, I have found in working with middle school students over the last 7 years that they “believe” in God, but don’t really know what that means… and to top it off, it’s generally not being reinforced at home, so the 2 hours a week they are at “church” often seems like a losing battle…

I often ask myself the question: What does God want for middle school students?

This CNN article is a worthwhile read: Author: More teens becoming ‘fake’ Christians

Abraham – God’s Promise to FIX Humanity

@ msy YOUTH (that’s middle school YOUTH group @ hayward wesleyan) a couple of weeks ago, we talked about Abraham and God starting “to fix this world” back to “his kind of world” – the Garden (before humanity messed it up). God picked a man–Abraham–and promised to make a special people out of him (whose vocation as a people would be to show the world what God is like), give his people a special place to live (land of Canaan, crossroads of the known world at the time), and give his presence to them. I illustrated this story and the Abrahamic Covenant using one of Sari’s beautiful creations.

Sari loves to color. And she’s really good. It’s a beautiful creation. Unique to Sari and perfect. Sari’s picture is like God’s creation–unique to him and perfect. But humanity (Adam and Eve) tore creation apart when they chose to follow themselves rather than God.

Maybe God had some options with this “wrecking” of his creation. He could destroy it, scrap it, and start over with something else. He could erase humanity and rework things. Who knows… but what we do know is that instead of wiping us out, he chose to “fix” us.  He chose to “redeem” humanity. And his plan sought to create a special people, put them in a special/intentional place, and bind his presence with them–all through Abraham. This plan had its intent to bring the broken created world (humans included) back into right relationship with its creator–God. Back to God’s kind of world.

The picture doesn’t really look like the original creation does it? It’s got a rip and some band-aids holding it together. The Abrahamic Covenant was just the beginning of God’s redemptive/fixing plan–albeit a very important beginning. God has narrowed his focus from a worldwide engagement with humanity (Genesis 4-11) to one man–Abraham–and is going to begin his work on broken humanity.

Here is msy YOUTH’s working statement about the Bible: “The Bible is about God continually working to fix this world through his kind of special people in order to make his kind of world.”

Reality of God vs. Concept of God

The reality of God is that the heavens declare the glory of God. No matter if I believed God existed or not, the weight/glory of God exists all around us.

A concept of God is my thinking about God through my human lens, which may or may not truly reflect what the “reality of God” is. God is reduced to what I “think” about him, instead of the reality.

Now these two are not necessarily mutually exclusive from each other. If I allowed the “reality of God” to determine my “concept of God” then that seems like the right direction. However, if my “concept of God” determines my “reality of God” then I have made God in my own image instead of letting the weight/glory of God loose in my thinking.

As a chronic thinker, my tendency is to engage more of my own personal “concept of God” instead of let the disrupting “reality of God” loose on my concepts. At times I do, I think. But there you go… I’m “thinking” again!

So I’m asking myself the question: “What does it mean for the reality of God to be the concept of God in my life?”

God’s Glory

Isaiah 6:3 “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

Isaiah encounters the Lord in his temple. Pretty wild stuff! This past Monday night, Heath Davis talked about this passage of Scripture in relation to the “Blessing of Holiness.” During his teaching he described glory as the weightyness of God, the heaviness of God, and the distruptive presence of God. He used a picture of a bowling ball dropped on a bunch of marbles. The result is a disruption or a dismantling of the marbles. The result? His weight just might rearrange/disrupt EVERYTHING.

If I truly experience the presence/glory of God, his weight just might rearrange my life. Meaning, his glory/presence/will for my life is a disruption or rearranging of Jeremy’s priorities and plans.

In Isaiah’s case, he is going to rearrange his life according to the “weightyness” of God. Do I want God’s “weightyness”/his glory to disrupt my life? I might not be able to control it… people might think I am really strange… I wonder if the mere fact that I am asking a “do I want to…” question, then that might mean that I haven’t experienced the awe and dismembering presence of God, because his glory does the disrupting…

Achan’s Sin and the Battle of Ai (story & video)

y2_w03 - Achan's Sin and the Battle of Ai

Things had been going so well for Joshua and the Israelites. They had conquered a mighty city (Jericho) by walking around the city and obeying the LORD! It seemed like nothing could stop them. The only thing that could stop them was SIN.

Achan, an Israelite man, decided to take some things from Jericho (something that the LORD explicitly told them NOT to do). Achan hid these things in his tent (a robe, some silver and a wedge of gold). When Joshua sent some soldiers to defeat the next city, Ai, they were defeated and 36 people died. The Israelites were dismayed and wondered why they didn’t win. The LORD told them that they had sinned. Well, they eventually found out it was Achan. The community stoned Achan and his family and all of his possessions.

Then the Israelites went on to defeat the city of Ai using an ambush.

Read Joshua 7:1 – 8:35
source Vimeo

Main Street | Sunday, September 19, 2010 | Year 2 – Week 3 | Achan’s Sin and the Battle of Ai

Fall of Jericho (story & video)

y2_w02 - Fall of Jericho

This past Sunday, September 12, 2010 in Main Street, we continued our storying through the Bible in the book of Joshua. the Israelites were on the cusp of entering the promised and are poised at the Jordan River. They had already spied out the land and are ready to enter it.

The LORD guided the Israelites across the Jordan River much the same way He did for the Israelites a generation earlier with Moses through the Red Sea. The Jordan River parted and they walked through on dry ground. Joshua had one leader from each of the 12 tribes grab a stone from the river bed and made a memorial as a reminder.

Along the way, the Angel of the LORD met Joshua and gave him instructions on what to do when they reached Jericho (the first city in the land of Canaan that they would have to conquer).

At Jericho, Joshua gather the Israelites and told them to march around the city once that day. Then again once the next day. They did this for six days, each day marching around the city once and then going back to camp. The people in Jericho were really afraid of the Israelites because of what they had heard about them (that the LORD God of heaven and earth was fighting for them). On the seventh day, the Israelites marched around the city seven times, and at the end of the seventh march, the shofar horn was to blow and the people were to shout. When they did this the walls of Jericho came tumbling down! The LORD God was fighting for them. All God’s people had to do was listen and obey.

Jericho was destroyed and burned, all except for Rahab and her family who were saved because of the promise of the 2 spies.

Read Joshua 3:1 – 6:27
source Vimeo

Main Street | Sunday, September 12, 2010 | Year 2 – Week 2 | Fall of Jericho

Rahab and the Spies (story)

y2_w01 - Rahab and the Spies

Sunday, September 5, 2010, in Main Street, we kicked off the school year with the continuation of the Bible stories from last year. At the end of the school year (back in May) we left the Israelites on the edge of the Promised Land (Canaan). Moses had just given his “going away” speech, because was not going to be making the journey into the Promised Land due to his disobedience.

The story opens with the LORD talking with Joshua, encouraging him in leadership and strength as well as obedience. The LORD reminds Joshua of the Abrahamic Covenant (the 3 p’s as the students in Main Street know): People (the Israelites), Presence (“I will never leave you nor forsake you”), and Place (promised land, canaan).

Joshua sends 2 spies in to the city of Jericho to gather information. They almost get caught but a woman named Rahab hides them on her roof and sends the guards off looking in the hills. Rahab communicates the fear of the inhabitants of Jericho because they know that the LORD God of heaven and earth is fighting for the Israelites. She asks to be saved from the coming destruction because she helped them. They agreed.

The spies return to Joshua and the Israelite camp (on the edge of the Jordan River).

Read Joshua 1:1 – 2:24