Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Hezekiah also reinstated the passover. Passover is normally celebrated in the first month of the Jewish calendar, but because of all that went down in the last years it had not been properly celebrated in a long time. Any in Hezekiah's reign they weren't quite ready to celebrate it in the first month as the repairs were being done, so did they decide to wait until the next year? No. They talked about it and decided they had to celebrate it as soon as they could. So they did in the second month. God's chosen people had been split into two areas a while back, and were actually just at war with each other during the last king's reign. But this did not matter to Hezekiah, he invited all of Isreal and Judah to come to Jerusalem to once again celebrate this important holy feast. Embracing the love means seeing with eyes of God, seeing how He loves beyond our own conflicts, beyond enemy lines, beyond religious lines, oh that every man and woman might come to Him through Jesus. No one is more deserving the other. And because they were so out of practice concerning coming to the temple to worship many came that had not cleansed themselves yet. They should not be included, but they are. Hezekiah knows the heart of God because he prays, "May the good LORD pardon everyone who sets his heart to seek God, the LORD, the God of his fathers, even though not according to the sanctuary's rules of cleanness." and the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people. God recognizes the hearts that are seeking Him. Hey, we may not have it altogether, we may even be afraid to go inside the building because of our "dirtiness", but God sees the glimpses of faithfulness in our hearts, and He meets us where we are. Set your heart to seek Him. See how He meets you, and even though you are dirty, provides a way through Jesus to come to Him. He's not concerned as much with so many rules and regulations, mainly that you set your heart to seek Him. One glance of your eye, it takes His breath away. Embrace His love, and know He's embracing yours.
Hezekiah seems to get it. As soon as he's named king he takes seriously the job before him. And his first order of business isn't killing off potential coup leaders or securing anything for himself, he's mainly concerned with God and repairing His house. "In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the LORD and repaired them." 2 chron 29:3 After many, many years of war and evil kings neglecting and destroying the house of God Hezekiah embraces the love of God and acts. He calls everyone to return worshipping the Lord in the temple, and reinstates levites and priests (those who could lead the worship). He doesn't have the people bring him taxes and gifts, but rather has the people bring what they have to God. When things are going crazy and life seems to be falling apart, it's so easy to focus on ourselves and be overwhelemed and throw ourselves a pity party. Look at Hezekiah and learn. There's no pity party there even though he comes to reign in a beaten and broken down kingdom torn apart by faithless leaders and foreign countries. Pray that you will be courageous in the ways of the Lord. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (that is Jesus). It's so easy to get stuck in our kingdoms (oh poor me), but try hard to worship even in the midst of your defeat and seek to repair the kingdom of God and your own kingdom won't seem to matter too much anymore. God will open your eyes to what is important, He will draw you near to Himself.
Friday, August 21, 2009
One sunday morning at a church plant just outside of Soroti, Uganda, a few Americans (myself and four others) attended a worship service with our Ugandan brothers and sisters. In the Ugandan church that we went to we sang some songs in english and some in ateso. Most the time it even took a while to realize that we were indeed singing in English. One of those times when I figured out we were singing in english I realized that we were singing, "We serve a Big, Big God," I was glad to realize we were singing english and started to join in and then the next phrase was, "We serve a Fat, Fat, God, We serve a Tall, Tall God." It caught me off guard, woah, did I just call God fat? and is that ok? Us americans all just kinda looked at each other and laughed and just kept on singing. I started thinking about it and it's true. We do serve a fat, fat God. In Africa in the majority of settings it is looked upon as good to be called fat and even to be fat as it means you have abundance of wealth and health, and joy. And, well, my God, He does have an abundance of wealth and health and joy, which He shares with His children. So in the end, I decided it was good to call God fat...not lazy and stuffing himself with food kind of fat, but full of wealth and life and joy kind of fat.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Lots of money, a big house, a great job, a loving family? Are those blessings? Lossing a job, the death of a loved one, hard, unclear decisions, no money, homeless? Blessing? What is blessing? I am under the impression that in the western church we often come up with a skewed, limited idea of what blessing is. I just wanted to challange you to look at what you call blessing and why you've labeled something a blessing or not. I know for me, when I look at my life, I wouldn't call my parents divorce a blessing, and yet I was blessed through it because I leaned into the Father's heart. I wouldn't call going through the breaking off of an egagement a blessing, but I am so blessed to now know better the Lover that Christ is to me. When looking back over my life I see that the times when I felt truely blessed were when I really had to press in to God, when I didn't understand things, and when I couldn't explain things, and I was ready to give up, its then that I experienced a new part of God's character that I otherwise would not have been able to experience so thoroughly. It was then that I felt most blessed, that this God of the universe would share Himself with me. When in Uganda, one might say, oh, they struggle so, and we have so much blessings at home and they have so little here. But think about how distracting our "blessings" in the states are. Think of how intimately some in Uganda are able to experience God because they don't have those "blessings." We can be truly blessed whether we are living in America or Uganda, it's all a matter of perspective.