We live in a world where the stronger man, the more arrogant and manipulative, seem to trounce the humble at heart in our daily lives as well as in the historical record. Then why did the psalmist David write, "But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity." Jesus confirmed David’s testimony in the Beatitudes, "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." But what does 'meek' mean anyway?
In reading the first few paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence, I heard a great echo from the past. What has really changed? Are we today ruled by a tyranny? It seems as if Western civilization will soon be voting in populist leaders in this new era of politics, some for better and some for worse. People are realizing throughout the world that they are being marched in directions they don't desire, along uncertain, bleak paths. What is our role?
Jesus replied, "Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." (Matthew 8:20)
During my travels to Latin America when I was in my twenties, I visited many cathedral ruins in parts of Mexico and Guatemala. Living in the United States, we just can't comprehend the profound legacy that the church has brought to the cities south of our borders. Hundreds of cathedrals are found there, many of which are in now ruins, not because of warfare, but because our neighbors live in a highly active seismic region. I enjoyed walking among the walls of stones and living gardens even before I became a true disciple of Christ. A quiet peace fills those spaces like the calm after a storm. They remind me of when Jesus' disciples looked upon the grandeur of the newly rebuilt temple in Jerusalem. Jesus said to them as the stood in awe, “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” (Mark 13)
All day long we cast judgments, some benign others not. If I'm a grade school student, I soon learn to judge a fact as true, such as 5 plus 3 equals 8. If I don't, my grade suffers. Now as an adult, I make more complex choices. I weigh them on a mental, emotional and ethical scale. Should I choose this path or that? I also engage in judgments that are outside my personal domain: They have no right to... Look who he's talking to... I can't believe she did that! And this is where I get into trouble.
We are all bound together in our sin. Rarely do we understand the simple truth to this fact and the vast ramifications. As a member of the family of man I am spiritually and physically connected to all that has happened, is happening, and will happen behind doors, in prison, in the theater of war. I am connected to all man's sin in my bloodline with Adam. Our self-absorbed, inward-looking nature is affected by and affects all of humanity. But this, we Christians know. However, despite how righteous I think I am, I'm still connected in a real way to the whole, and in being so, I am no more righteous and holy than the worst of humanity. However, God has provided a means for escape: forgiveness.
As discussed previously, consecration is an act of God where he makes holy or sacred that which has become profane. It's important to emphasize that even our sins, selfishness and wrongdoings can be cleansed through Christ. Jesus said, "Behold, I am making all things new!" (Revelation 21:5) But how does God transform our sins into what is holy?
In recent weeks I've had a terrible time as a substitute teacher. None of my 'tricks' seem to be working. It's my personal policy not to yell at students and to be patient. I also try to enjoy the day and bring joy into the students' lives. But recently, after an exhausting day of trying to maintain barely a thread of order, I'll drive home from elementary school feeling incompetent with a splitting headache. I wonder, "Is it worth it for me to do this work?"
Jesus responds to me, "Yes, it is worth it. This is how you help Me consecrate the world."
I just released, Too Far to Wander, a short novel that teaches about science in a Pacific Northwest wilderness setting. The audience for the book is primarily 3rd to 5th grade readers, however, I also have in mind older students who are disengaged from the learning environment. This book is a story of redemption written for a secular audience. It could be used both in traditional schools and in homeschool settings.
Going beyond the planet Earth is one of those strange desires of the human species. Why? Do dogs want to travel to outer space? How about dolphins or eagles? Much of science fiction and fantasy literature is born out of a longing to be connected more deeply with the Universe. I’ve come to believe that we are a longing species. We want there to be more to creation than just planet Earth, so we write books about it and explore technical methods with our science and engineering. But I don’t really believe that technology will ever get us physically beyond our solar system. Technology has limits. However, that doesn’t mean we won’t explore the universe and have real and direct relationships with it and its Creator. Our desire for something more makes us connect as humans and bonds us in ever-deepening ways to things beyond us. In the hush of the deepest part of my heart, I feel that one day we will enter places vastly beyond our imagination.
In a recent discussion with some fellow Christians the question came up, “What do the writers of the books of the Bible mean when they refer to the flesh?” Usually we think of the flesh to mean our sensual nature, our fleshy desires. However, there was some agreement among us that the flesh is at times intended to describe our covering like a cloak. In this definition, the flesh could refer who we think we are outwardly or the face we intentionally project to others. One person went as far as to conjecture that the Mosaic Law itself is a form of the flesh, because the Law covers over our sin.
Jesus laments in Matthew 17, "You unbelieving and perverse generation. How long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?" Have you ever felt frustrated and disappointed with the indifferent, blasé people that follow Christ?
As I learn more about the word consecration, I've found that inside the word resounds a protective sense, a deep resilience, like sentinels on guard. Does not God protect his consecrated ones with a great array of heavenly hosts? To see this word in a defensive sense strengthens our faith, for as we are consecrated into the Lord, he protects his children at all cost—even at the cost of his own life.
My wife and I have visited so many churches over the years, some with impeccable doctrine and beautiful liturgy. I personally (without my wife) have been going to one particular church for three years now that fits those impeccable characteristics, yet amazingly, I feel that if I was to suddenly stop going tomorrow, I'm not sure if anyone would even notice! Similarly, my family and I attended one particular church for two years. Eventually we decided to move on to another church, and guess what? Not one single person called us and let us know that they were sorry to see us go. I even wrote the pastors to tell them we were moving on with a kind letter, and they didn't even respond. Yes, it is astonishing.
Whether we Christians realize it or not, one of our primary purposes is to consecrate the world to Jesus. But what does to consecrate even mean? Marriages are consecrated through a holy act of love. Bread and wine are consecrated and transformed into the body and blood of Jesus. Consecration happens when God takes something ordinary and makes it holy. In order to better understand our practical role as Christians on this earth, I want to study how we can be instruments of consecration. How do we take what has been desecrated by the fall of man and transform it into what is sacred?
Ever since I became a Christian in my late twenties, I have wondered, "Where is the church we read about in Acts 2? Where is the kingdom that Jesus says is so close at hand?" I long for it more than life itself. Over the years, my wife and I have been to many different churches, seeking the fellowship and the love of true believers of Christ. In brief glimpses, we have seen the people of God through our sin-stained eyes. The glimpses keep us going. Jesus keeps us going. But I still cry out, "Jesus, can we have the church of Acts 2 today!" Pastor Jimmy Seibert's answer in his new book Passion & Purpose is "Yes!"
I so often make mistakes with my parenting. As hard as I try, I'm too impatient, too quick to criticize, too harsh and too preoccupied. It's only by the grace of God that my children will survive my parenthood. Have you used that phrase before: "It's only by the grace of God..."? It implies our complete reliance on God to make us fit amid a life of blunder. As cliché as it may be, those words do exhibit true humility. But grace is one of those words that we use so often that its meaning has become obscured. When I first embraced Christianity in my late twenties, a non-Christian friend once asked me, "So now that you're a Christian, tell me what grace means." At the time I thought my answer was pathetic.