Going back on your word: PB’s life journal 8.24.10

Recently you repented and did what is right in my sight: Each of you proclaimed freedom to his countrymen. You even made a covenant before me in the house that bears my Name.
But now you have turned around and profaned my name; each of you has taken back the male and female slaves you had set free to go where they wished. You have forced them to become your slaves again.
“Therefore, this is what the Lord says: You have not obeyed me; you have not proclaimed freedom for your fellow countrymen. So I now proclaim ‘freedom’ for you, declares the Lord—‘freedom’ to fall by the sword, plague and famine. I will make you abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth.
Jeremiah 34:15-17

OBSERVATION
God is in process of taking away the people of Israel and Judah to exile as slaves. But He sends Jeremiah to call the people to repentance, and they start getting back in lone with God’s will: they release slaves that were supposed to have been freed. And God promises blessing. But then they change their minds, and take back their slaves. They go back on theory promise to let them go, and God changes his blessing to a curse.

APPLICATION
Sometimes in my life I have realized my sin and promised God that I would stop. I feel great and I start to see God blessing my life. But then, sometimes I go back to my sin anyway. I un-repent. And somehow I still feel like God is supposed to bless me. Maybe he is taking the blessing away until I repent again. Christ’s blood covers all sin, but the forgiveness is only there when we ask for it. And if we don’t, then God is completely justified in setting us free to the consequences of our sin: just like in v.17 (free to die by the sword, etc.).

PRAYER
LORD, let me be one who doesn’t promise one thing and then go right back to my sin. May I be one who follows up repentance with a commitment to follow you. Amen.

It’s never too late, until it’s too late. PB Life Journal: 8.16.10

1 This is what the Lord says: “Go down to the palace of the king of Judah and proclaim this message there:2 ‘Hear the word of the Lord, O king of Judah, you who sit on David’s throne—you, your officials and your people who come through these gates.3 This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the alien, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.4 For if you are careful to carry out these commands, then kings who sit on David’s throne will come through the gates of this palace, riding in chariots and on horses, accompanied by their officials and their people.

5 But if you do not obey these commands, declares the Lord, I swear by myself that this palace will become a ruin.24 “As surely as I live,” declares the Lord, “even if you, Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, were a signet ring on my right hand, I would still pull you off. 25 I will hand you over to those who seek your life, those you fear—to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and to the Babylonians.
Jeremiah 22

1 During Jehoiakim’s reign, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon invaded the land, and Jehoiakim became his vassal for three years. But then he changed his mind and rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar. 2 The Lord sent Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite and Ammonite raiders against him. He sent them to destroy Judah, in accordance with the word of the Lord proclaimed by his servants the prophets. 3 Surely these things happened to Judah according to the Lord’s command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done, 4 including the shedding of innocent blood. For he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the Lord was not willing to forgive.
2 Kings 24

observation
Jeremiah and 2 Kings are 2 different kinds of literature/writing. But they go together. Kings is a book of history recording the kings of Judah, the southern kingdom after Israel splits in two. Jeremiah is a book of the recorded prophecies of the prophet Jeremiah.
In these two passages, Jeremiah is prophesying that Babylon (King Nebuchadnezzar) is going to take Jehoiachin away in exile because of the sins of the people of God. The passage in 2 Kings is giving us the historical account of that prophecy happening just as God said through his prophet, Jeremiah.
But here’s the cool thing (aside from the fact that God’s prophecies come true), God sends Jeremiah to tell the king that even at this point — even when Babylon is on its way — if the king would repent and turn back to God, he would cancel this plan for destruction.

application
This piece of history tells me a lot about who God is. He will offer forgiveness and blessing even to the worst sinner if they will just turn back to him. The key to my life in Christ is not perfection, but being always willing to turn to Him as soon as I notice I’m off-course. And to know that I’m never too far off the path: God will always lead me back. It’s only too late when I’m dead.

prayer
LORD, keep me on your path. Keep my eyes fixed on you. And if I stray, may your grace and mercy cover me and bring me back to that right place with you. Amen.

PB life journal: 8/15/10

3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel.  4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.
5 Then the word of the Lord came to me:6 “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.7 If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed,8 and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.9 And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, 10 and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.
_Jeremiah 18

observation

Jeremiah is told to go see a potter making a pot out of clay. When the clay bends the wrong way, the potter adjusts his plans and makes a pot that fits the bent clay. God says He will do the same. If His people bend their way out of the plans He had for them, He will change His plans and make something different with them. And our God promises that it works both ways: if He promises blessing and you walk away, the blessing may be changed or removed; and if He promises destruction, but you turn from sin and follow Him, the destruction can be canceled and replaced with blessing.

application

God can change His mind. I can think of so many times where I have had a promise from God. Where someone has told me they have a word from the Lord that is a prophecy of blessing, or where God has spoken to me directly in prayer or worship and given me visions and dreams and promises of blessing and direction. And these things are sure. But only as I follow Him. Not that every little mistake I make will make God take things from me, but He is not bound to bless me if I turn my back on Him and walk in sin. He is not obligated to bless me against my refusal to repent and trust in Him. I must live for Him, and always be quick to turn back to Him when I find that I have strayed off the path. Or I may end up becoming a very different pot than He planned to make me into.

prayer

LORD, help me to walk in your ways. May I always follow you and you alone. May my life be one that glorifies your name. And may I be one who is striving to be malleable and mold-able in your hands, that I may be made into what you dreamed I could be, not just a “plan b”.

Wild Rivers 2010

Hey, so we had a blast at Wild Rivers yesterday!

We brought 24 people in 4 vehicles and demolished just about every water slide they had!

Highlights seemed to be the Abyss and Congo River Rapids. The key on Congo is to ride with two people backwards. Definitely the best way. Slamming into each other in line with rafts helps pass the time well. But beware of fun-hating people who may be in line near you and get annoyed when your fun enters their personal space.

Cobras, Wipeout, Bombay Blaster [even with only one side open], and Sweitzer Falls were good times as well. Nothing like your traditional raft-free slides to provide wedgies and sore backs!

Speaking of a sore back, I don’t think anyone got through the toilet-bowl-swirly slides without a bit of pain. Note to self: in the future, avoid that ride at all costs, unless tricking Junior High boys into it… they seem to like it.

The wave pool is a bust, as they seem to have taken away the spontaneous fun of rushing in between slides by closing it and adding a line. The line takes forever, and I’m not sure anyone actually suffered through to get into the wave pool. Oh well!

The lazy river is always a good time as well, but mostly for dunking, warming-up, or just resting at the end of the day. Oh, and don’t forget to race around once or twice.

If you weren’t there, you need to come next year!

If you were there, what were your favorite and least favorite parts?

SYATP 2010: Reveal

Do you ever feel alone on your campus? Do you sometimes feel you’re the only Christian around? Is it tough to reach out without standing out? But your heart is to reach your friends for Christ, so what do you do?

Well, what if you gathered with other Christians around the flagpole at your school on the morning of September 22 and laid this petition before God, “Father, may Your will be done on my campus as it is in heaven”?

What if all of you really meant that prayer? What if your youth pastor stood ready to help you make this a reality?

How would that change your school? How would that change the lives of your friends and fellow students?

See You at the Pole™ can provide a powerful connection between you and the other Christian students on your campus to pray and reach out all year long.

Let See You at the Pole™ be a kick-off for you to truly make a difference this year. Take your place in history with millions of other students on this Global Day of Student Prayer.


Whores and Tax Collectors: PB Life Journal: Aug 10

10 In spite of all this, her unfaithful sister Judah did not return to me with all her heart, but only in pretense,” declares the Lord.
11 The Lord said to me, “Faithless Israel is more righteous than unfaithful Judah.

12 Go, proclaim this message toward the north:
“ ‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the Lord,
‘I will frown on you no longer,
for I am merciful,’ declares the Lord,
‘I will not be angry forever.

13 Only acknowledge your guilt—
you have rebelled against the Lord your God,
you have scattered your favors to foreign gods
under every spreading tree,
and have not obeyed me,’ ”
declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 3

OBSERVATION:
Israel walked away from God completely. They didn’t pretend. They didn’t sort of follow God. They walked headlong into pagan worship of false gods and idols. And God says that is more righteous than Judah. Judah, who says they still follow the LORD, but also worship other gods, false gods. Jeremiah compares Judah to a prostitute, a whore, sharing herself with anyone without remorse, and still pretending to be a good wife. Israel, the wife that left and divorced, is better off/more righteous.

APPLICATION:
This reminds me of a parable of Jesus:

The Parable of the Two Sons

28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’

29 ” ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.

31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
“The first,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.

32 For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.

Matthew 21

In the passage from Jeremiah, Judah reminds me of the son who won’t go even though he says he will. And God is calling Israel to be the other son. Just like the tax collectors and prostitutes — who were considered some of the worst sinners in Israel — God calls to Israel, “come back and be with me.” It is better to be the one who was completely against God, and come to him (the son who works even though he says he won’t) than to be the one who fakes it, talks the talk, but there’s no follow-through.

If all I do is talk, but I don’t live like a Christian, I am like a cheating spouse. It would be like talking about how much I love Mandy, but sleeping around all the time with different women. I have to live what I preach. I have to be who I say I am. Or, even better, just be who God made me to be, and let that speak for me.

Don’t be the person who is at church saying, “yeah, I’m all about this, I love Jesus and I live for him,” but you leave and don’t do any of this. Don’t be a hypocrite. Be the one who lives it. Repent from a life away from God, enter the garden and join us in the work. Don’t just talk about it.

Will I be the prostitute who turns from that life and comes to God with thanksgiving, or the bad wife who secretly sleeps around? Will I be the tax collector who goes honest and gets right with the LORD, or will I be a Pharisee who talks a lot of good but cheats people in secret?

PRAYER:
Lord, I need you. I need you to make me more like you and less like me. Make me a man of service and action. Make me a person who lives for you and also shares what you are doing in my life, not the guy who talks about how to do it while he fakes it. May I be like the prostitutes and tax collectors who honestly praise you for the forgiveness of sin and life change. May I be a shining light, not just an instruction booklet for a flashlight. In Jesus’ name. Amen.