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  • Mark 9:42 am on June 19, 2013 Permalink  

    God’s Real Estate 


    The Israelites are at the top of their game.  They’ve spent the last 450 years struggling out from under slavery in Egypt, and after wandering through the wilderness with their mighty God shamelessly being given a tent to ‘live in’ – they found their Promise Land, and continued to search and wander through their leadership model.  They had these impermanent, flimsy judges, who led their people about as often as they deserted them and deserted their God.  Judges certainly weren’t the leadership model of a good, healthy, secure nation.  

    So the Israelites cried out for a king.  They wanted the permanence of the nations that surrounded them.  The grass looked so much greener with a king who could rule over them with a dynasty that would last for generations.  And now, they had 40 years of David, and the jewel on David’s crown was his wise son, Solomon.  Solomon’s pinnacle moment, and maybe, the pinnacle moment of Israel’s entire history as a nation is 2 Chronicles chapter 6 through chapter 9 – the dedication of the Temple of God!  Even the Queen of Sheba comes to visit Israel to see all that they have accomplished.

    The verse quoted below comes after 6 chapters of onerous detail on the Temple’s construction.  Large pillars made of this, giant pools built from that… hundreds of tons of gold, silver, bronze… it just goes on and on.

    Now remember…2 Chronicles was very likely written during the exile of this once powerful nation….

    Solomon stands up and announces to God —

    1 Then Solomon prayed, “O Lord, you have said that you would live in a thick cloud of darkness. 2 Now I have built a glorious Temple for you, a place where you can live forever!” — 2 Chronicles 6:1-2

    When I read this at first, I almost skipped past it.  Did you catch it?  Did you catch the irony?  Read the verse again…

    1 Then Solomon prayed, “O Lord, you have said that you would live in a thick cloud of darkness. 2 Now I have built a glorious Temple for you, a place where you can live forever!” — 2 Chronicles 6:1-2  (emphasis added)

     Now, for all the glory and might of which Solomon was so proud, where prey tell is that temple Solomon was so confident God could live in forever?  Can you show it to me on a map today?  No!  Its long since destroyed, and its subsequent iterations have been destroyed, as will every other human project.

    But notice the clouds.  Here today, gone…5 minutes from now.  Some of the most impermanent, ephemeral, vaporous characters in all Creation.  Is it possible that Solomon had it backwards?

    Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.  God chose things despised by the world,  things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.  As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.  — 1 Corinthians 1: 27-29 (emphasis added)

    God still lives in the clouds.  Not literally or exclusively of course.  But what I mean is that God is still making his home in the weak things, as opposed to ivory towers.  He has passed up king’s courts, congressional committees, and has instead chosen to make his home in our fragile, emotive, human hearts.  He lives in clouds, not in temples.

    So when you look around at what we’ve accomplished for God:  The mega-church buildings, the incredible poverty eradication programs, the top-notch universities built to train Christian leaders of tomorrow…remember God’s choice in real estate is not in the things about which we feel like we can beat our chest.  He lives in the clouds.  He lives with the fragile, the forgotten, the here-today-gone-five-minutes-from-now world.

    He lives next door to you, no matter where you’ve run off to…

  • Mark 9:59 am on December 11, 2012 Permalink  

    Tied Up 

    Hebrews 9 – high priests of old were known for going into the Most Holy Place, and human priests would tie a rope around him, anchoring him to themselves just in case he died in the presence of God.  It was an action that was to remind even the holy priests, and even the high priest himself, that there was danger when entering into God’s presence, and wearing a rope to drag out your dead body was a reminder of that acute fact.
       This happened for thousands of years, so what the author of Hebrews says in chapter 6 is frightfully astonishing.  In verse 19, Jesus is an ANCHOR for us, but this time the rope is coming from behind the curtain of the Most Holy Place – Jesus has gone into that sacred space, and anchored himself to God, then handed us the rope.  This rope is a rope to keep us safe from anything OUTSIDE of that Holy Place may lob at us.  Demons, decay and destruction cannot break us when we are tied to Jesus, our anchor for the soul.
      19This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. 20Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.
  • Mark 9:23 am on September 24, 2012 Permalink  

    How a Movement Starts 

    Watching a movement take place is an amazing thing.  Think of how hard it would be to make a change in an organization like an entire nation – now think of how difficult it would be if that nation were inside and mixed in another nation, and that nation was enslaved and broken by the master nation.  Imagine how difficult it would be to move an entire nation to accept that NOW, after 400+ years, was the time to all move in concert together and flee their oppressors. This was Moses’ job.
    27 The Lord said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he went and met him at the mountain of God and kissed him.28 And Moses told Aaron all the words of the Lord with which he had sent him to speak, and all the signs that he had commanded him to do.29 Then Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the people of Israel.30 Aaron spoke all the words that the Lord had spoken to Moses and did the signs in the sight of the people.31 And the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord had visited the people of Israel and that he had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped.
       Looking at Exodus 4:27-31, we watch as the movement spreads.  It starts with a very doubtful leader – Moses – who can’t speak well and lacks confidence that he can pull it off.  We notice a few things about movement:
    1- It begins with one other person who truly “gets it”.
       Aaron heard from God to “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.”  Aaron was a slave.  This meant he was taking a huge risk to leave his station to head out into the wilderness.  It was also totally random and spontaneous – Moses had been out in the wilderness for 40 years.  Aaron took this message from God as enough evidence to risk his life and leave the comforts of Egypt to see his brother.  Already Aaron is a die-hard partner to Moses, before he’s even heard the mission.  Takeaway – find ONE other person who totally “gets it” and is willing to risk everything, before all the details are even ironed out.  It was incumbent on Moses, slow-to-speech though he was, to convey the mission to Aaron – this is critical as the entire movement could’ve fallen apart if Aaron was cynical, critical, or unwilling.  Moses too – had to share the message of God with Aaron – this delivery of message and passion is of utmost importance.  Every mission starts with a passionate prophet – but it quickly needs a partner.
    2- Influence people of influence.
       After the Dynamic Duo (Moses and Aaron) were ready to put everything on the line for this Exodus-to-be, they needed to more widely distribute their passion to others.  Like a virus of freedom – they looked for those who would be most contagious.  It is possible that if they had just run into the Hebrew neighborhood and shouted “Ok everyone, time to get out of here!” No one would have followed, and Moses and Aaron would have been executed for treason.  No, instead, they took their time to gather all the elders of Israel – Aaron reasoned and delivered the message of God to all those who were going to be able to influence the greater group.  More than that – Moses backed up Aaron’s eloquence with POWER, he displayed before the elders the miracles God had given to him to prove God had sent Moses to complete this mission.  Takeaway – A movement always starts with a small group of committed people, but it can never stay there.  It must spread!  And it must spread with Word, and with Power.  God’s Word, and God’s Power.  Do not be afraid to ask God to come through in POWER when he has called you to a mission.  That’s just what God does.
    3 – “And the people believed…and worshiped.”  
    Finally and most importantly, the masses have to make the mission theirs if there is to be a movement.  The Exodus Revolution can’t be “Moses’ hobby-horse” – it must be owned by all. Letting the movement-ethos seep into the crowds may be the most difficult to control, in fact it is uncontrollable except for the Spirit of God working on each individual heart.  Takeaway – Let belief spread; don’t contain the message or consider yourself the gatekeeper of the message.  You will bottleneck the movement.  And finally – let worship be a response to the movement at every phase.  God is the one moving, we are simply responding to his graceful action.  It was only through God’s Power that Moses, Aaron, the elders, and the people had the vision, the passion, and the courage to break free from bondage.
    God is a God of Movement!
    • Davejarnold16 7:40 pm on November 15, 2012 Permalink

      Hey Mark – great post! Thanks for sharing. Movements are what’s God’s all about. While we often think about our little “area” or “tribe”, God is thinking much bigger… movements!
      Miss you guys in Chi-town & know you’re part of a movement there. God bless.

    • Mark W 7:41 pm on November 15, 2012 Permalink

      Thanks Dave!

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