Local News

I woke up this morning and saw a barrage of current news topics flooding my iPhone feed. I had made the enormous mistake of letting the news app know what kind of stories I was interested in. I quickly realized that reading these stories was going to do two things; make me mad at the government, and force me to realize that there’s not much I can do to combat the evils of this world. Now the former I can easily dismiss as I am a conscientious voter who is informed and active at both the local and national levels. The problems of the world that we are buried with all day every day are much harder to dismiss.

I often think in those moments “would it be better to go to the old days”. One of the many reasons for the letters that comprise 2/3s of the New Testament is that news was not delivered to your door. It wasn’t until 59 AD that the newspaper became an idea, and it wasn’t until 1605 that a weekly publishing of the local news stories became a reality. There was no CBS morning news while Caligula was naming his horse as consul. There wasn’t an Anderson Cooper 360 to investigate the evils of the Ptolemaic Pharaohs. News was reported by word of mouth and letters to friends. And only by speaking of these evils among those who were trusted could momentum be created to combat those evils.

We are more connected than ever, whether through Facebook and Twitter, or the national news and blogs like this one. What we can’t seem to deal with anymore are the personal crises that change our emotional landscape every day. Galatians 6:2 says “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” How often is the church gathering together to share the daily struggles? To discuss their sin issues? To honestly examine and receive counsel from their concerned neighbor?

We spend so much time worrying about the condition of someone’s life 2000 miles away, but we seem to no longer hold our next door neighbor or a friend in the next pew close enough to check in on their well-being. When did “I’m blessed” become an appropriate answer to “how are you?”.

All I am saying is this. Care enough about the people in front of you to ask how they are doing and be invested enough to expect a real answer. We do not minister on the surface level. We minister on the soul level. Pay attention to the news coming from the mouths of friends and neighbors. The hurts and sins that those you care for confess. Then, and only then, can you really carry a neighbors burden that is actionable.

Fresh Mercies, New Mornings

We don’t have it all together in this house. Not that anyone really does. Some days I feel like we do though – or at least like we mostly have it together. But sometimes…

Sometimes I raise my voice.

Sometimes I am easily agitated by seemingly simple tasks that may be a little harder for others to grasp – or appreciate – or just do.

Sometimes these little angels push my buttons. (And dare I say, they may even do so on purpose?)

Sometimes it’s harder to like them… did I just say that? I always choose to love them. But sometimes it can just be hard to like their behavior, their demeanor.

Of course, I know I can be pretty unlikeable sometimes myself. Especially if I’m in a mood where I’m agitated… raising my voice… and not seeing the face of God in the ones I love most. Yes, that definitely makes me unlikeable. But I suppose that is where the beauty of grace and mercy collide with the frailty of the flesh.

Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. – Ephesians 4:32

 

If I am truly honest with myself, I’m a hot mess more often than I care to admit! Praise God that even in my hottest and messiest of hot messes there is forgiveness. There is redemption. There is renewal. Because He is faithful.

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. – Lamentations 3:22-23

Sometimes we need a fresh morning full of new mercies.

 

Thank You Jesus, for knowing that we won’t have it all together. Thank You for the promises of new beginnings.

Worship God Requires

I desire to worship God.

That statement can’t be overemphasized, BUT…

There always seems to be a “but” – doesn’t there? Sometimes I get distracted with the everyday busyness of life, sometimes I allow myself to get distracted by my own goals, plans, or desires. However, today I want to talk about my struggle to worship God when when I just feel completely overwhelmed by His presence.

I know this might seem odd to some, but there are times when I just feel I have nothing good enough to bring to God. It seems like every way I know how to praise God just doesn’t seem to be enough, like I am not enough.

The prophet Micah found himself in a similar circumstance. In Micah 6, God is reminding Israel that He (God) has been faithful to them. That He has delivered them time and time again. As the prophet considers God’s faithfulness, he becomes overwhelmed by the beauty and majesty of God. How can he, a man, faithfully worship a perfect and holy God? What can he bring to his God, his King, his Savior, his great deliverer, that is of worth?

“With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God?” (Micah 6:6a)

Do I have anything to bring to my God? Do I have anything to offer that would be worthy of His name?

Verse 6 continues, “Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?”

Are the standard practices of faith enough? Do I sing some songs? Hit my knees? Raise my hands? Make a special offering or sacrifice?

“Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my first born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” (Micah 6:7) What do I need to give? What must I sacrifice? What does God require of me – is it my stuff, my children, my wife, my very life? Would any of that even be enough?

This is where the prophet speaks to his need and mine, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you?”

“To act justly…”

God requires us to live a life of justice, treating others with fairness. To live a life where others can come to know the God whom we serve through how we treat those who are in need, or mistreated, or hurting, or who are being treated unfairly.

“…and to love mercy…”

God has shown us such great mercy. Our every breath is a testimony of His mercies which are renewed each and every morning. What if we loved mercy to such an extent that extending mercy to others was our first reaction? If we love mercy our lives would be shaped and defined by an attitude of forgiveness for all who hurt us, not just those we are closest to.

“…and walk humbly with your God.”

What if we agree with God about the the depths of the wickedness that is our sin? What if we begin to understand the depths of His love for us, the completeness of His salvation for us, and understand that His deliverance has nothing to do with us and everything to do with Him? They are based on His person, His character, His love, His mercy, His sacrifice, His grace. He has done it all – and you and I need to do nothing but simply trust in His way, His truth, His life, His way, His plan, His power, His purpose.

In these moments my worship becomes so much more real than the actions of a religious man. I connect with God as His justice become my actions, His mercy becomes my love for others, and as my steps seek to follow Him to the point that I decrease   and this life I live becomes His do do with as He pleases. So that it is no longer me but Christ living in me.

That is the kind of worship God desires, that He deserves, and that is the kind of worship I want to give Him!