Monday, November 30, 2009

Treasured



What are the things we treasure? To know what you really cherish, imagine a fire taking everything you own. What would be the things you would miss the most? Likely it is not the things that can be replaced; the TV's, the stereo's, the cars, etc. It would be the small items, the objects that are filled with memories of stories from years long gone.

Leigh McLeroy takes this thought and applies it to God. What would God hold on to? Through short chapters and engaging stories, she reveals deep joys and hurts in her own life, while revealing just how relevant are the old stories of God in our world today. Just a quick glance through the chapter titles reveals how very diverse God has been. God has been very creative in the type of people He chooses to work in and through, and His creativity continues in the objects that become memory makers throughout history. God continues His creative usefulness through this great book.

Perhaps the question that stirred the most thought in my life came about halfway through the book when Leigh questioned if Abraham would cling to what God had given, or cling to God alone. As Abraham went forward with plans of obedient faithfulness, the question was importnat. It is no less important for us today as we consider what are the things we truly treasure.

To purchase this book, visit http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9781400074815.
This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I'll Buy That for a Shekel

You think our economy is bad? You should try paying five shekels for a bowl of field greens. (Pause for dramatic gasp) Wait, you didn't gasp? Perhaps it would help if you knew how much a shekel was worth. Without going into much detail, the shekel was a measurement of weight in gold, so even a conservative comparison would be that one shekel was worth $400. So, do the math, and we find that people were paying the equivalent of $2,000 for a bowl of field greens. (Ok, now pause for dramatic gasp.)

These prices were found in 2 Kings 6:25. Apparently there was a bad famine going on. How bad was it? It was so bad that women were eating their children. Now, my wife has threatened to eat our children if they don't start behaving, but it's never been because there was a lack of food. But that's what happened in 2 Kings 6:26-29.

How crazy hungry do you have to be that you look at one of your children and think to yourself, 'I bet he'd taste alright.' And how crazy is it that, upon hearing this story, the king blames God and threatens to kill Elisha the prophet?

I believe this to be an issue of our character being revealed in times of great difficulty. When food was scarce and women were eating their kids, the king blames God and shows no sign of trust. When the famine ends, we stop hearing about the king.

Who do you look to in times of trouble? Better yet, what do you say when you find who you're looking for? It's one thing to look to God, it's another to praise Him in times of need. If you're a little low today, just hold on to that shekel. It just might be worth more tomorrow.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Smart, and Yet So Very Dumb

In the last chapter of 1 Kings, we find a story of a wise, yet stupid, king. His name is Jehoshaphat, and he is king of Judah, now separated from the rest of Israel. The king of Israel is Ahab, an evil king that did not do what God wanted...ever.

But one day Ahab and Jehoshaphat are sitting around, doing what kings do, playing checkers or, if they were in a good mood, four-square. Ahab asks Jehoshaphat if he'll join him in battle against a common enemy. Jehoshaphat agrees, but asks if they can seek counsel from God. Ahab calls in his puppet prophets, who encourage him to do whatever he wants. Jehoshaphat wisely asks if there is an actual prophet of God around to ask. There is, and this prophet spells out doom for this mission.

It is at this point in which I would love to know what Jehoshaphat was thinking. If you read 1 Kings 22, there are several warning signs for Jehoshaphat to back out of this alliance. If none of the other signs made him leery, then hearing a prophet from God actually spell out how bad this idea was should have done the trick. (Check out 1 Kings 22 to see how ridiculous this gets.)

Jehoshaphat joins in battle despite the warning signs and, despite a losing battle, escapes death. It surprises me, because Jehoshaphat was smart enough to seek God's counsel, but too dumb to actually take it.

It made me look inward. How often do I ask for God's wisdom to be poured into my life and my decision-making, but then I go and do whatever I want? I doubt I am alone in this, but too often we have our mind made up before we ever consider God's plans. And I would think God, at the very least, would be insulted at being an afterthought. Much more when His will is ignored.

Good idea: Getting God's wisdom on every aspect of our lives.
Better idea: Living out God's wisdom in every aspect of our lives.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Time to Split

So we're told that King Solomon was given a 'wise and discerning heart' in 1 Kings 3. Furthermore, we're told that there will never have been anyone like him in this area, before or since. Then, in typical foreshadowing style, we're instantly whisked away to a story of two moms and two babies. One baby dies and mayhem ensues. Each mom insists that the living baby is theirs and they go back and forth in front of the king. I've always imagined this to be a scene comparable to the Jerry Springer show. But I digress. We're about to see Solomon's wisdom.

The king asks for a sword and gives the order to have the baby cut in half so each mom can have a half. Are you kidding me? Is this really the wisdom from the wise King Solomon? Split a pizza? Sure! Go halfsies on the cost of gas for a long trip? You bet! But to suggest splitting a baby seems like threatening not to give your kids ice cream simply because they are misbehaving.

Then I saw this wisdom in real life. Two of my children, one 6 years old and one 3 years old, were fighting over a toy. Nodding to my wife, I told them I would cut the toy in half and they could each have a half. My wife sat in awe as she suddenly realized she was in the presence of great wisdom.

What happened next shocked me. My 6-year old cried out and said no. My 3-year old chuckled an evil laugh and said, 'Yeah, cut it in half.' The maniacal attitude of my 3-year old aside, I was surprised that it actually worked.

The toy, safely and in one piece, was given to my son and my lesson was learned. We should never ever doubt the wisdom of the Bible. The stories we have learned as children and re-learned as adults are always true, always relevant, and always reliable. When we think we're beyond the wisdom of Scripture, we show our foolish colors. As Paul correctly told Timothy, this whole book is from God and "is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (1 Timothy 3:16-17).

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Looking For What I Already Have

I'm an idiot. I think you know that already, but here's the latest proof.

I'm at the office where my wife and I work. I had just picked up (not literally) my 3-year old from her pre-school class. I then picked her up (literally) and walked down to my wife's office where she and my 6-year old son were. Seeing that they were ready to go home for lunch, we all began walking out towards our vehicle.

Since we both work at a church, we rarely leave without someone stopping to ask one of us a question. (I know, we're so important.) This day was no exception. The question was for my wife, which meant it was my task to keep the kids focused and acting as normal as possible. As she finished, I thought I saw my 3-year old walk into one of the rooms. I followed her in and called her name. She wasn't in there, so I turned to ask my wife where our daughter went. She gave me a look that asked if I was a retard. The answer, of course, is a resounding yes. The daughter in question was still in my arms, now smiling at her dad, wondering how soon it might be before she was taking care of me.

I could say that I had some worthy excuse, but let's face it...it's really difficult to overlook something in your arms. I'm certain I'm not alone in this. I've seen people looking for their keys that were in their hand, sunglasses that were on their head, or a wallet that was in their pocket. Granted, these are not living things, but still.

We, as Christians, often do this as well. We have Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), an indescribable gift (2 Corinthians 9:15), and giver of every perfect gift (James 1:17), yet we look for happiness somewhere else.

When we forget to spend time with our Friend and then wonder why we feel alone, we are looking for something we already have. When we allow anxiety and bitterness to rule our lives and then ask for peace, we are looking for something we already have. When we choose to make our own decisions and go our own way, and then wonder why we don't have more wisdom, we are looking for something we already have.

When we live like this, we make two critical errors, and possibly more. For starters, we overlook the Giver and all He has done for us. If we spend our time looking for things we already have, we cannot possibly be thanking Him at the same time. Secondly, we waste a lot of time.

The cries to live victoriously can already be heard. As Paul said, "I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:3-6).