Saturday, December 29, 2007

God's Will - The 3 Strands of Love

The final verse of Leviticus:

These are the commands the LORD gave Moses on Mount Sinai for the Israelites.

Bible. Big book. Lot’s to remember. Hard to get my head around.

For the Jews: Torah and Talmud. Lots of commandments. Lots of history. Lots to understand, lot’s to act upon.

For the Christians: Old and New Testaments. Questions like “Do we still obey the Law?” “If so how much?” Jesus’ words: lot’s to remember, lots to obey, hard to get our head around…

I don't know about you, maybe you're smarter than me, but I find it’s always better to understand something in a nutshell and then build knowledge and detail on that understanding. I always love it when someone boils it down for me.

In fact when I was a child (a long long time ago), my mum tells me that I would ask her hard questions then as she tried to explain, I'd constantly interupt her with the same phrase: "No Mum, I don't want to know that. I just want to know ..." In other words: "Cut to the chase, Ma! Bottom line it for me."

So I'm so there when a teacher of the Law asks Jesus, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”. Yes! Bottom line it for us!

Jesus responded:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." [Mark 12-28-30]

In another place, Jesus added “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments”. [Matthew 22:40]

So using these words of Christ as a launching point, the commandments that the LORD gave Moses were given to teach Israel how to:

  • Love God

  • Love other humans

  • Love themselves (this is implied in Leviticus 19:18 – love your neighbour as yourself)

Love in popular media is about an endorphin-enriched emotion that makes you do crazy things to gain another person’s endorphin-enriched emotion toward you.

In the Bible, love is about actively seeking the betterment of the other according to God's standards. That not only helps us understand loving God and others but also the love ourselves part: flossing my teeth – although it’s tedious – is essential to taking care of the body God gave me to be caretaker of.

You get the gist.

Getting back to Leviticus, while the book itself is about formalizing laws governing spiritual practice and daily conduct, I sense the deeper message of Leviticus as

Honoring/Worshipping God Involves Appraoching Every Aspect of Our Life with Love.

Approaching God on His terms is obviously respectful (loving toward Him) and is essential to worship, where worship means bringing glory and honor to God.

But treating others fairly is also a part of “worship”. Managing our sexuality is - in part - spiritual and is a part of worship. Respecting others’ property is a part of worship. Taking care of our body is a part of worship. Because failure and flaw in these areas is a turning away from God (anti-worship) and His expectations of mankind.

And a huge part of “holistic” (ie., whole life) worship would be refusing to be drawn into the religious practices of others (Lev 20:2-5), which in our societies might be less about offering our children up to Molech and more about things like gambling – the god of Luck – or using God’s principles without having to go through Him first – as in the whole Law of Attraction movement. This brings us back to the 3-strands of love that Jesus summed up God’s will by:

  • love God (with everything in you),

  • love others (with justice, altruism and grace) and

  • love your own self (maintain your physical, moral and emotional health, and develop what God has entrusted to you)

God is fiercely interested in all of life, not just in getting a little attention occasionally in our church or synagogue gatherings, not just in us getting the sacred or religious compartment of life “right”.

It’s all sacred.

It’s all given as a gift from Him but is expected to be used in honor of Him and to draw us ever closer to Him and to others.

So in the year ahead, the week ahead, the day ahead, which of these 3 strands of love needs the most attention in your life:

  • actively loving God?

  • actively loving someone else (whether friend or foe)?

  • actively caring for your own body soul and mind?

What action do you feel God would require of you in that area? What will you do about that?


Don’t forget to go read Yehudi01’s take on this verse at "If You See Mr. Bill, Tell Him I'm Sorry..." and his post about loving God at "Three Small Steps To G-d's Heart..." Always worth the read!

Grace and peace to you today!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Monster Christian?

Werewolves, Zombies and Frankenstein. Which of these, Christian, do you resemble most?

Visit Jeremiah's posts here and here to assess thyself!

Bwa ha hah hah hahhh! [cough, cough...]

Famous Last Words: Exodus

Welcome, readers, both new and old-er. :)

I'm sticking with this project to comment on the last verse of each "book" of the Christian Bible. It was both humbling and energising that my first foray into this drew the attention of a number of Jewish friends, in particular Yehudi01 who has undertaken the same project. I'm looking forward to this as it unfolds; to have a Jewish and a Christian perspective on the same verse ... I dunno, it's just kinda cool!

(In fact, my friend is now miles ahead of me and has posted up to Numbers. I'm trying not to read his posts, until I've at least drafted mine, so I'm only up to his Exodus post ... and it is not only very good reading but highly motivating).

Anyway, let's get into it...


So the cloud of the LORD was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel during all their travels.
Imagine living like this, the supernatural plainly visible, the actual presence of the Lord manifestly right there in front of you 24/7!! I sometimes skip over the words on the page, but when I stop to place myself in the situation, man! For creatures like us whose primary sense is sight, this would be breathtaking.

As I contemplate it this morning, the verse speaks to me of 3 things: reassurance, culmination and inclusivity.

While I imagine the cloud and the fire to be terrifying in some ways, in others I imagine it to have been reassuring. Looking at it would make me think "The Lord is with us".

In Psalm 91 and John's Gospel 14:15-17, He promises to remain with us, to be there for us constantly. Whether in dramatic or in non-dramatic ways, whether seen or unseen, His presence is promised.

But we don't have the fire, the cloud today. We don't live in Exodus 40: 38. And in our reality, it can be so easy to doubt, even to fear abandonment.

So I ask you: how do you look for signs of His presence around you? What has He provided you personally by way of reassurance and how can you utilise that to turn your heart and your faith toward Him afresh today?

He is here. He is near.

Now that the Tabernacle had been set up according to His command, the Lord showed that He accepted their obedience and fulfilled His earlier promise to remain with them in Person.

Some preachers tell us that when we obey the revealed Word, the commands, then we will release the storehouses of heaven over our life, releasing healing, being showered with finances and possessions, having doors open before us, etc etc.

And that's one way that He may choose to bless us, with seasons where these things happen. But I don't think the Lord is into transactional relationships: I can't imagine the Most High saying you scratch My back, I'll scratch yours.

It strikes me from this passage, that the main purpose of His instruction and His commands are to prepare the way for Him to act, to fulfill His own will. Whether that action is dwelling near to us, or doing a miracle, or filling our souls with peace, or humbling us for a time, or suddenly turning our heart to forgive another ... those actions are His choice.

That said, obedience culminates in the Lord's action. But again the highlight of this is not so much what He does as it is that we get to know Him! Jesus Himself (John 17) intimated that the goal of life is to know "the only true God". Obedience makes this possible.

I picked this word up in my life as a professional trainer/presenter. And I love it.

Everyone in the nation of Israel could see the cloud and the fire. Everyone. It was not for Moses or for priests alone. Everyone from leader to follower, from ol' codger to little baby, both man and woman could see!

The Lord desires that all would be aware of Him, be in awe of Him, draw near to Him.

My position in life does not determine whether or not I can know God; what counts is that I turn my heart to perceive and know Him. Whether He is near or afar is no longer the issue. The issue is: which way am I walking, which way am I facing? I can turn and seek Him, I can turn and know Him, I can turn and 'see' Him.


Today, I turn my heart afresh to You, Lord. I believe Your promise to never leave nor forsake me. I see Your hand at work in my life and my family and I thank You for it. I recall what You have asked me to do and to be and once again I turn my strength toward Your instruction and command so that You would do what You will in me and through me.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Losing My Ordination Papers Means Losing My Soul?!

"Nobody likes to be treated like an idiot in the workplace and senior pastors (many, but obviously not all) seem to be experts in treating people badly."

Got your attention, didn't it? This is just one quote from a good mate of mine Nick, whose post on why ministers are "getting out of ministry" was written in response to this statement by a so-called Pillar of the AOG in Australia, a man who holds himself up as a supreme example to others of success and godliness:

"It is a tragedy that there are so many pastors out there no longer in ministry ... It is because these inactive ministers no longer pay any attention to their relationship with God that they were now not serving."

Apart from the bizarre leap of logic evident in this statement, apart from its offensiveness, it perpetrates a dangerous assumption: favour with God = position and performance in the local attractional church, and the more pentecostal the church, the better.

But I think what makes me saddest of all about a comment like that is that there are people vulnerable enough to believe it, not the least of whom were the hapless Bible College graduates to whom the comment was addressed. Though many of them will be self-defined and spiritual enough to shrug it off, some unfortunately will continue to equate spiritual status (ie., where you fit on God's pyramid) with their position as professional clergy.

I totally respect professional Pastors who are non-full-of-themselves. I just wish they were the ones who had the ear of most Christians, rather than ratbags like the bloke quoted above. [Sigh]

Nick's post is worth the read, I promise. :) Click here to go there.