Strict//EN" ""> EAGLES' REST: November 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Separate. Apart. Different. Worthy Of Mention.

For more years than I can remember, casual use of the word "God" has always struck a bad chord in my soul. Even before I was in church, in the Bible, trying to follow Jesus, something about jokes that used His name, or the movie with George Burns that used His name, or casual expressions referring to Him have simply seemed wrong. There are lots of completely "clean" jokes around that refer to God (or Jesus, or the Holy Spirit) doing this or that, even some intended to prove a valid spiritual point. But they've still rubbed me the wrong way, even when I didn't know why.

This morning, someone put up a verse on Facebook that rang my bell .. that spoke to me and said "Here's why......":

1 Peter 3:15:
"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:"

I looked up the word "sanctify". Strong's Online says "set apart from profane things .. purify .." (among several other things, but let's look at those things).

But first, let's play those thoughts against the third commandment:

Deuteronomy 5:11:
"Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain."

"Vain" means "emptiness, nothingness, vanity, worthlessness..". When I consider Who God is, what He has done, what He IS doing, and what He is capable of, how dare I use that name unless I am talking about the God Who spoke the universe into existence, set in motion a plan to save mankind from hell when Adam & Eve sinned, sacrificed His own Son for me, gives meaning and purpose to my life that I could never have dreamed in years gone by, and Who holds such promise for the future of even the oldest among us?

I can't.

Back to the verse in 1 Peter. My reluctance to use His name without purpose .. without using His name in accordance with HIS purposes, not mine .. cannot be based on any sort of fear that I'll insult Him, or somehow "get it wrong". My use of His name must come from a heart that's in tune with Him .. a heart that's called according to His purposes. From a heart filled with admiration of my Heavenly Father, not filled with fear of a tyrant.

This rant isn't about talking about God less .. it's about talking about Him for Who He truly is. Oh, that we'd do that all the more.

Maybe it's about being salt and light. Perhaps "salt & light" isn't about how much we're rubbing the world the wrong way. Perhaps it's being the seasoning that enhances the sweet taste of heavenly forgiveness and earthly purpose. That points people to Living Water.

I'm out of the closet. Talking to restaurant servers about things of the Spirit, wishing folks at Walmart a "blessed day" instead of a good one, telling the greeter at Home Depot that any day I have Jesus, I WILL "Have a good day".

And it's been more fun .. more uplifting for me .. than I would ever have imagined.

Thanks, Tony, for posting that verse this morning. You made my day.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Eden. And Consequences

So, anyway, I was sitting at the kitchen table, helping Peg make some cole slaw. After I'd stirred up the dressing, she brought me the cabbage, so I could finish chopping it.

We've got one of those things that has a handle on it, with a circular cutting blade on the other end, and you just pound on the stuff you want to chop up. Peg had already cut up the cabbage with a knife, so it was (comparatively) easy chopping. After a few minutes' at that, I stopped to rest my shoulder, and let the pain (the right shoulder is "shot" due to arthritis .. well .. that's the technical term my doctor used, anyway...) subside, and Peg noticed. She asked if my wrist hurt and I told her it was my shoulder and she said "Oh .. I forgot", and said the cabbage was OK; that I'd done good.

We finished the slaw, then.

That got me to thinking about the travails that Jesus mentioned, in this life, and that took me back to the Garden of Eden. A couple of thoughts then connected, that hadn't, before this morning.

When Adam & Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, God immediately swooped in and changed everything. He changed the ground rules, He changed some of the rules about how the race would be continued, and how man would feed himself and his family. And nearly everything else that touched them in their lives on earth. Illnesses, sins, persecutions, and all.

First thought .. the one I'd had for some time: God's action was redemptive. If it had been punitive, God would either have simply taken their lives, consigning them immediately to outer darkness, or He wouldn't have done anything at all, simply letting them go to their deaths unredeemed. But God didn't do that; He was consistent with His redemptive purposes, and set in motion a plan for the redemption of mankind, that ended at a Cross and an Empty Tomb.

So the redirection of Eve's interests, the pain in her childbirth, and Adam's assignment to toil & sweat, were the actions of a redemptive God.

The twofold thought that came my way via chopping cabbage was this: first, not only was God's assignment for Adam & Eve redemptive, it was also perfect preparation for eternity. And, if God is at all consistent, then, similarly, the trials, tribulations, and sufferings of this life are God's perfect preparation, in us, for eternity!

I don't know about you, but I do want to be prepared, God's way, for Heaven!

Some time ago, a dear friend had an unexpected problem crop up in education. One which produced no small amount of anguish. I asked "What if this is exactly what God had in mind for you?"

Wow. That thought seemed very meaningful, and certainly ended the outward evidences of disturbance in my friend. Well, maybe that was the tip of the iceberg, in this line of thinking. That everything we experience in this life is perfect preparation for our life in eternity. That there are no extraneous troubles, or whimsy, coming from God's direction.

Of course, I'm not talking about the earthly results of our willful sin, but even then, God is still, always, redemptive.

I happen to think that, once Ananias and Saphira got to Heaven, they would've seen what the results of their sin might have been, and been thankful to God that He took them out of there before more damage could accrue.

We're blessed folks. Enjoying a good retirement, to the thanks and praise of God; we've generally had good health. I've got arthritis which bedevils me every day, but that's just pain. And there was that prostate cancer, which was taken care of .. thus far .. by a gracious God acting through a small army of doctors.

Peg's had breast cancer several times .. she's been clean for years now but still bears the after-effects of a double mastectomy .. and she has plenty of aches and pains, too.

But, in the context of being God's perfect preparation, of us, for eternal life in His presence, with none of these problems there, how could we do anything other than rejoice in our infirmities?

We can't.

Let us know if you think of a way.