Monday, July 30, 2012

Did I Blink?



As I am building my business little by little in Boulder, I am surrounded by various alternative beliefs, but what is usually lacking is anything remotely Christian, in fact in some cases there is an intolerance to the Christian faith.

Many people  have come to Boulder to escape “organized” religion, and I have heard horror stories of “What the church did to me” (...or to her,  to him, to us, or to them.) 

This time as I was sitting down with the owner of a store, I pulled out a few of the cards I make and did not show the cards with Scripture on them.

Thinking about this after I left the store, I wondered did I “deny” you Lord before men? (See Matt. 10:33)

I re-played the scene and in my mind created a scenario where I would “throw caution to the wind” and just put “all my cards on the table.” (pun intended)

And it didn’t look good this time.

Noticing the obvious new-age items for sale, I realized that this could be a person who has been so turned off to religion, and specifically Christianity, that I might “poison the well” for this business owner by sharing those particular cards. Sharing my faith is not a problem, but sometimes being too "in your face" with your faith, you lose the chance for friendship...which to me is just as important as the sale.

Why not use wisdom and let the store owner get to know me first and later share the cards with the scripture.

I think this time wisdom is waiting until later, and I think I actually was lead by the Spirit of God.

Friday, July 27, 2012

"The World Through the Eyes of a Child"

This is the song "The World Through the Eyes of a Child" by John Kuzma. The singers are from the "Sing a Mile High" concert July 1, 2012.  The writer of this song listened to his creation sung by nearly 300 beautiful voices.


I was pondering what it must have been like for the composer to release his song, and see it come to life, interpreted by this assembly of 9 different choirs.


God, one day you will hear our voices singing together the New Song that you wrote...that we will joyfully interpret in a choir of every tribe and nation.

But for now, these children blend their voices to sing these words:



Sometimes I see clearest of all when I'm alone and remember
Afternoon sunlight at school day's end:The World Through the Eyes of a Child.
Then I can see a world yet to be, here and now in my grasp, like Saturday mornings when I wake and see The World Through the eyes of a Child.


The world in the eye of a friend can reveal a new world living in me.
And some hemisphere we see through a tear can spin a new melody. 

When I grow old in winter and twilight, I will remember spring and Wisdom I learned for the sometime view of The World through the Eyes of a child.


Knowing that world will carry me on tomorrow, today and tonight when I close my eyes and I once again see The World Through the Eyes of a Child.

John Kuzma

Yelton Rhodes Music YR5402

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Case For Christ: Lee Strobel

Thank you Greg West at Poached Egg for posting this.


Spoils of War


“I rejoice at Your word, as one who finds great spoil.” Psalm 119:162 NASB 

“I rejoice at Thy word, as one who finds great spoil.” RSV

“I am jubilant over thy promise, like a man carrying off much booty.” NEB

“I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil.” KJV

“I rejoice in your promise like one who finds great spoil.” NIV

“I rejoice in your laws like one who finds a great treasure.” The Living Bible

“I rejoice in your promise like on who finds great spoil.” TNIV


Do we really?

I don’t understand why this verse caught my attention, but it led me to look in almost all the versions of the Bible I have lying around the house. But as shown above, it seems to be unanimous that the person who penned this line in the longest Psalm, Psalm119, compares the study of God’s word to finding a spoil of war after a great battle.
Here in the 21st century we have no idea what that would be like.

But perhaps I can try to frame it for you: you are a solder with a sword and shield, and you have just survived multiple hand to hand battles, in the heat of the day, with sweat running down your back and in your eyes.  You are exhausted and dusty, your arm is aching, your shoulder hurts, an you are panting for breath; yet you revive as you hear victory shouts and realize the enemy is dropping their weapons and running away. Victory!  And you are grateful to think you are still alive.  You and your fellow solders gather together to collect what the foreign army has left behind: food, clothing, more weapons, and bags of gold and silver items looted from other settlements along their path into your land.  This will be passes out to each of your comrades to take home as a bonus.  What joy, for you know your life will be a little easier because God gave not only victory, but a gift for the sacrifice of leaving your farm and family to defend your country, beyond just your own saved life.

Can we look at learning the Word of God as worthy of the struggle in our stressed out lives to see knowledge of scripture, once gained, as if it is gold, silver, precious stones: war-booty?


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Random Thoughts


If I say to you, “You hurt me,” please say you are sorry and mean it. I will forgive you; but please give me some time to heal from the hurt you caused. If you don’t apologize I guess you just lost a friend.

Most Christians seem to be in the same broken condition they were in when they got saved. I wonder why?

Many of the “Imprecatory” Psalms are about how a fellow Israelite (a fellow believer) turned on one of their friends. Doesn’t that sound like today?

If we agree that we are, in Jesus’ words “the light to the world,” we all have pretty dim bulbs. But the rest of the world sees by our light just fine; look how well they can see every little thing we do wrong.

A Facebook thread is not a “real” conversation; so why does it feel that way sometimes? The occasional “chat” with a person half-way across the country, or the world is fun. I need to remember though, that I don’t always need to be right, even if I am. Lord, let me give grace instead to allow them to be stupid if they want to be.

Studying philosophy is great but rarely do I get people to talk to.  Either a person says 1. “That’s nice” and changes the subject 2. Tells you what a waste of time that is, or 3. Exhorts you as to what you really need to learn in philosophy, as they are the expert in all things philosophical.

Here is my clue to know whether a man is married or not. Where ever I am, I am usually reading a book. When I hear a man ask me “So, what are you reading?” “Philosophy” I say. Then I look up to see the reaction. If the man has a startled expression on his faced and says “Oh, I see” or “Right” as he slowly backs away, he is un-married. The married guys all sit down and want to have a converstation.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Quote for the day

"Are our lives so hidden in Christ, no one knows we are 'in Christ?'"






From the sermon 7/22/2012 by Erik Hanson, newly elected "Pastor, head of staff" at First Presbyterian, Boulder CO.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Psalm 68:1-6

Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered, and let those who hate Him flee before Him.  As smoke is driven away, so drive them away; as wax melts before the fire, so let the wicked perish before God.  But let the righteous be glad; let them exult before God; yes, let them rejoice with gladness.  Sing to God, sing praises to His name; lift up a song for Him who rides through the deserts, whose name is the Lord, and exult before Him.  A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, is God in his holy habitation.  God makes a home for the lonely; he leads out he prisoners into prosperity, only the rebellious dwell in a parched land. (Psalm 68:1-6)

I am always encouraged by this Psalm for many reasons...but two are the words written "God makes a home for the lonely..." and that later in the Psalm are the words "The woman who proclaim the good tidings are a great host..." (v. 11b).



And that "the father of the fatherless..." God looks over me and others who have been rejected by their families, that the Lord of all creation cares for the cast-off's of this world.


That God should care.


That the God-Incarnate would have died for me.


And that rose from the dead to confirm the truth of His love for me (and to all those whom all love has waxed cold).

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul, What wondrous love is this, Oh my soul! What wondrous love is this that cause the Lord of bliss to bear the dreadful curse for my soul,for my soul, to bear the dreadful curse for my soul.

Amen.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Strange Fire



“Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them.  And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.” (Leviticus 10:1-2)




Let’s first look at this example in its context.  The placement of God killing Nadab and Abihu for offering “strange fire” comes right after the description of finalizing the purification of the tabernacle and the ordination of Aaron and his sons.  The close of chapter 9 describes Moses and Aaron blessing the people, then “…the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people.  Then fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering…and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.” (Leviticus 9:23-24)

At the second part of 10:1 it says that “…He [God] had not commanded them."  So the Lord had not told anyone of the priests, including Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, to offer anything.

We may not be able to determine exactly what those two did, but seeing their dead bodies, Moses said to Aaron “It is what the Lord spoke, saying, by those who come near me I will be treated as holy…” (v.3)

But this tragic consequence for jumping the gun on trying to serve the Lord, and not treating the service of God as holy, should give us a moment’s pause.

Has God called you into some sort of ministry, or are you trying to make other people happy.

How seriously do we take worship?

Am I going to church to be entertained or to actually worship the one true Living God?

Perhaps we might want to realize that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7)

Jesus may be our savior, but he is also the Sovereign Lord.

Now that is something to meditate on.



Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Laws about fat Leviticus 3: 16-17


 All the fat (shall be offered) before the Lord. It is an everlasting statute unto all your generations, that neither the fat nor the blood shall be eaten in any of your dwellings, but upon the back of the altar it shall be sacrificed unto the Name of the Lord. (Leviticus 3:16-17) 
From The Targums of the Pentateuch: Pseudo-Jonathan
 Leviticus (found on-line here: http://targum.info/pj/pjlev01-06.htm)

I am still reading around the laws of the various offerings in Leviticus chapters 3-6, and I noticed that another “Everlasting Statute” had been put in place.  I always knew the law regarding blood, “Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” (Genesis 9:4) But here in Leviticus is the addition of a no-exception law regarding the fat of an animal...both the sacrifice or in your "dwelling."

And I wondered why?

When you think about the fat described on the animal (on the ‘entrails’ or intestines, on the kidneys, etc.) if you have been around any animal being butchered, you can tell how well an animal has been cared for by the amount and quality of the fat on the organs and in the meat.

Now, I haven’t been around a farm for a long time, but this I do know: meat of a well cared for animal will have a good amount of fat on it.  In any areas where you have subsistence farming or herding of animals, if the grazing is good, the animals will have quite alot of fat in them.  Fat will give a human being easy calories.  If you want to have a lot of energy in a survival situation, you need fat.  But if you have enough to eat, and balanced nutrition: the fat on the organs of an animal is excess.

Perhaps this command to offer all the fat of an animal was to teach trust in God to provide for his people a balanced, steady supply of food so that the people did not need to eat any emergency rations (fat) to stay alive. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Leviticus and Extortion


Leviticus 6:1-7 “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘When a person sins and acts unfaithfully against the Lord, and deceives his companion in regard to a deposit or a security entrusted to him, or through robbery, or if he has extorted from his companion, or has found what was lost and lied about it and sworn falsely, so that he sins in regard to any one of the things a man may do; then it shall be, when he sins and becomes guilty, that he shall restore what he took by robbery or what he got by extortion, or the deposit which was entrusted to him or the lost thing which he found, or anything about which he swore falsely; he shall make restitution for it in full and add to it one-fifth more.  He shall give it to the one to whom it belongs on the day he presents his guilt offering.   Then he shall  bring to the priest his guilt offering to the Lord, a ram without defect from the flock according to your valuation, for a guilt offering, and the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord, and he will be forgiven for any one of the things which he may have done to incur guilt.’”

Some interesting thought came to me over this set of verses; the first was the explanation of how to obtain forgiveness for deliberate, planned sin. This is the sin of stealing from a business partner or extortion.

The Hebrew word transliterated is ‘osheq’ and is most often represented in the Bible as the English word “oppression.”  But in this passage the word used is “extortion.”

What is extortion?  My 1957 Webster’s Dictionary defines extort as “…to get (money, etc.) by violence, threats, misuse of authority…” and further the word extortion as “…sometimes applied to the exaction of too high a price.”

Now when you understand a little of the ancient Near East laws, this would fall under the heading of theft, and thieves were executed or mutilated (hands cut off), or if you were from the privileged class (not a peasant) you did have to pay restitution many times the cost of the stolen item.  But if you were rich enough, what real punishment could that be?

The passage in Leviticus seems to be a teaching moment for the nation of Israel if you consider their background.  This to me sounds like behavior modification, if you can highlight the idea of misuse of authority.

In Egypt, these former slaves (the children of Israel) would have been surrounded by the privileged they served getting away with murder, literally!   Officials who misused power would have been normal for them to see.  But God was teaching them a better way.

The person guilty of theft by misuse of power, and misuse of authority was found out and disciplined.  He had to return the money overcharged, or bullied from ( this is far more serious than “Give me your milk money or I’ll beat you up!”) and a penalty of cash (one-fifth over value added on) and he publicly had to give an offering to the priest for his guilt as an atonement, then “…he will be forgiven for any one of the things which he may have done to incur guilt.” (v. 7)

So how would we apply this to today?  Is there justice for all regardless of the size of your bank account? And as Christians, what is our responsibility to be just, stand up for justice, and speak out against injustice and oppression (extortion) today? 

And if the guilty makes restitution, do we forgive them?




Sunday, July 15, 2012

Whitewash?


The sermon today was on Acts 23:1-11, which is where the Apostle Paul is brought before the “informal” meeting of the Sanhedrin as called by the Roman officials.

But a point that caught my attention was Paul’s accusation to the High Priest of his being a “…white washed wall…” (Acts 23:3) which seems to be pointing to both the accusation made by Jesus to the Pharisees (“…white washed tombs…filled with dead men’s bones…” (Matthew 23:27) and the pick-up the pastor added pointed to a much earlier prophesy by Ezekiel 13:10 -11and14 which reads,
“It is definitely because they have misled My people by saying ‘Peace!’ when there is no peace.  And when anyone builds a wall, behold, they plaster it over with whitewash; so tell those who plaster it over with whitewash, that it will fall…So I will tear down the wall which you plastered over with whitewash and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation is laid bare; and when it falls, you will be consumed in its midst.  And you will know that I am the Lord.”
But I began to think about to “whitewash” something: to cover over without fixing what’s underneath.

I remember the “old” basement of the house I grew up in, where the original part of the house was 200 years old.  The basement portion of that home was built of field stone and cement with a thick layer of whitewash over it.

As a girl, I recall finding a chunk of whitewash that fell off and I stuck my finger into the hole…it was full of soft, crumbling dust.  The mortar holding the rocks together was falling apart.

So what am I whitewashing over in my life?

Is my foundation solid and strong, or covered over with a thick layer of whitewash covering a lot of crumbling dust?

“For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.  According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it.  For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:9-11)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Humility from Leviticus


In my morning devotions, I am re-reading through the ‘wilderness wanderings’ of the children of Israel, and I am currently to Leviticus.

While reading through chapters 4 through 6 especially the guilt or sin offerings, this thought came to mind: how humbling this process was.

There was no way you could hide your sin, and there was no way you could hide your guilt before God.  It was right out there in the open and everyone knew.  They even knew when the priest sinned.
“If the anointed priest sins so as to bring guilt on the people, then let him offer to the Lord a bull without defect as a sin offering for the sin he has committed” (Leviticus 4:3)

As full time workers before the Lord, the priest would have to make a real effort to ask one of his non-priest cattle herders to sell him a bull “…without defect…”  And anyone else had to tell the priest what his or her sin was in front of everyone.
v How embarrassing.
v How humbling.
v How “leveling.”
How come we, “the Royal Priesthood” don’t do this now?

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed…” (James 5:16a)

Format Change

I am making a 'format' change for "Insights from the Furnace."


As I do my morning devotions, I will begin again to write down the insights that I believe God has given to me, and try to post a daily thought.


To "...write the vision and make it plain" (Hab. 2:2)


These won't be long, just a short devotional based on my current Bible readings.


And as always, your comments are welcome: but due to time constraints, I may not respond to what you might post.


Thank you all who follow this blog.


God Bless,
Lisa Guinther

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Can you hear me?


Can you hear me?

*a woman*

…or do you see the
marks of my gender.

                …See my lips move;
               
and only
                hear noise?

Are you able,
        To see my
                        Humanity?


Will you let God open your eyes?
Will you let God open your ears?


                       
Or do you just want to look at
                the marks of my gender?

Please!

Can you hear me?

Don’t you want to know?


I am encased in a sound proof box of stereotypes.

White noise.

No matter how loud I scream, yell, cry…

                        your proof-texts absorb my sounds.


Can you hear me?

I am
made
in
the
Imago Dei.

*woman*

I have a voice.

Why won't you listen?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

What does it mean to say "I Love you?"


What does it mean to say “I love you”?


I have a “chalk board” in my kitchen, much to the delight of children who visit me.  I keep a supply of colored pastels and chalk in a plastic food container on one of my book shelves near the door.
I observe that all the children who draw on my board always seem to write “I love you Lisa” or I luv U Lisa” or “I *heart* U.”

You get the idea.

I am sure that those parents and grandparents reading this blog, smile thinking of the “refrigerator art” from all the seasons, or for no reason, drawn in crayon, colored pencil, markers and painted in watercolor paint, the words “I LOVE YOU!”

Yes, it brings some sentimental smile, but what did that child mean?

Think back to your own childhood, and when you told your parents,  grandparents, or best friend, “I love you” what were you expressing?   You were most likely expressing the emotion we like to call love: a delightful, happy warm feeling, but how long did it last?

A day? An hour? About 5 minutes until your mom or dad found out you didn’t finish your homework, chore, or something you were supposed to do but forgot. Or your grandparents ask you to help take out the trash, or your best friend borrowed your favorite tee-shirt and trashed it.

Then the grumble rattled in your head and you spoke out loud the words, “You’re mean” or “I don’t like you anymore” even to the point of the whiney rant “I hate you!”


“Yes dears” I think as the children draw the hearts and rainbows on my board “I hope one day you really learn what love is.” 

Love is not an emotion…but it can be emotional.

Love is not having sex…but it is supposed to be a blessed part of a marriage.

Love is not expensive stuff, or fancy cloths…things all break, get old, tear, wear out or rot.

Love is something that humanity in our fallen-ness is actually incapable of.

Love is the sacrifice that Jesus gave of himself. To pour out his blood and die on a cross so that we could be saved. To pay the awful price of our love-less rebellion, in order to bring real love back into the world, and then he rose from the dead to prove that the battle was won and the price was paid.

“Be gracious to me, O God, according to your Lovingkindnesses; according to the greatness of your compassion blot out my transgressions.  Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.  For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.  Against you, you alone have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.” (Psalm 51:1-4)
“…the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28

“For God  did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but , but that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:17)


“Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!...” (Romans 7:24-25)


“…if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

Asking for forgiveness is only the beginning, Asking for salvation is only the start: this is you as a young child drawing hearts on the chalk board, with big puffy clouds and rainbows "Jesus I Love You!"

And I'm sure he just smiles.

Then when we surrender to God, Love is poured into our hearts, healing the old wounds caused by other love-less people.

 Healing feels good and having real love is wonderful.

The drawings that we make on the chalk board get a little more complicated, but still this new life is wonderful, safe, warm, comfortable.

You learn to worship with others, and the fellowship at church is great!

Then when those wounds heal, we learn to surrender a little more, open up more…Love is only love when it is given: from God to us, but then from us to others.

If the two great commandments Jesus gave us are:

1.   Love God with the entirety of our being, and
2.   Love your neighbor as yourself.
We can’t do either…not without surrender.

Surrender your heart.

Surrender your soul.

Surrender your will...and begin the process, that over time God will clean out the  old garbage  in  your soul, and strengthen you for this long, tough, hard journey he has places you on.

If you are willing to give up the puffy clouds, rainbows and hearts drawn on the chalk board, take up your cross…And really follow Jesus. Are you willing to understand what it means when Jesus says "I love you" and let him show you how to say that to your neighbor, friend, spouse...and mean it, live it, act it.

To begin to bear fruit for the Kingdom of God.

So, who’s ready to join me?