Friday, February 12, 2016

Rub Some Dirt In It . . .

Image result for crown of thorns purple   "Rub some dirt in it and walk it off!"  When I was a lad that was the default encouragement one would hear whenever someone injured themselves while playing sports.  It was a way of saying STOP crying and get back in the game so we can win!  Not exactly sympathetic, huh?

   This past week the season of Lent opened up with the observance of Ash Wednesday.  Lent is the Holy Christian Church's way of saying "Rub some dirt in it." But the Church's motivation is not to win, but rather, to lose. 

  • to lose our boasting before the Lord;
  • to lose our love of sin;
  • to lose our disillusionment of making ourselves right with God by our actions;
  • to lose our alibis and excuses for our wrong actions, words and thoughts; and,
  • to lose any fantasy about our mortality.
   "Rub some dirt in it" means that we are honest about who we are before the Lord.  It is a realization that standing with our spiritual resume before the Most High God is a harrowing ordeal.  It is a confession that we have come woefully short of His expectations and demands.  It is a stark reminder that death - both physical and eternal - are what we deserve for how we have misused the life our God has granted us.  It is listening, along with Adam, to the words of the curse: 
"By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you shall return"  Genesis 3:19
   But there is more to the Christian's life than repentance and sorrow - there is HOPE!  We have hope because God sent His Son into this life of dust and dirt and sin in order to rescue us.  We have hope because Jesus lived a perfect life, suffered and died, and then rose from the dead on the third day!  Through faith we hear the curse revised into: Dust you are and to dust you shall return . . . until Jesus returns again and you are called once more out of the dust into eternal life!"  

   Lent is a time to reflect on our mortality and sin, even as we prepare to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead!  Life got you down? Burdened by sin and sorrow?  Just plain tired of the world's garbage? Rub some dirt in it and rejoice - for Christ has overcome the world!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Surviving the Furnace

   This is week is one of my favorite Chapel times with our Preschoolers as we "live" the story of The Fiery Furnace.   (If you aren't familiar with the full story you can find it in Daniel 3)

   In the story three young Hebrews named Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, are dealt with rather harshly by the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar.  The king had a 90 foot statue of gold erected, and then commanded all of his government officials to bow down and worship.  Any who refused would be immediately cast into a fully fired-up furnace.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to bend their knee to the statue saying . . . 
"our God Whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace"
   In the face of the king's ensuing anger, these three stood strong and faithful. They never claimed that their God would deliver them unharmed from the fire - they merely said that He "is able" to deliver them. Their faith in the Lord was such that they trusted He would deliver them either from the fire or through the fire.  God would either walk them out of the fire unharmed OR would allow the fire to take their life and thereby release them from the evil of this world and bring them home to Himself.  In this case their refusal made the king so hot under the collar that he commanded the furnace to be stoked to 7 times its normal temperature! 

   As he peered into the furnace, Nebuchadnezzar noticed TWO curious things: 
  1. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were walking around unharmed in the heart of the fire, and
  2. There was now a FOURTH man walking with them who was like a "son of the gods"
   Nebuchadnezzar was moved to exclaim:
“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!”
   Have you found the furnace to be running particularly hot in your life lately?  Has it seemed that the world is geared against you and that your days seem to be more heavily numbered among the bad than the good? Are you tempted to follow the ways of the world and abandon seeing the world from the Lord's point of view?  Hold on tight!  Never forget that Jesus, the Son of God, has already walked among us.  He has saved us by His life, death and resurrection and He will deliver us from evil . . . perhaps from the fire and perhaps through the fire.

Father, mighty and gracious Lord, hear the prayers of all Your people in distress.  Grant that the Holy Spirit to confirm them in their faith, strengthen their weary hearts, and sustain them through the hope of eternal life through Your Son Jesus Christ, in His name we pray. Amen.
To God be the glory!