7 Godly Sins? – the Lust of God 

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7 Godly Sins? – the Lust of God

If God intends on being party to every marriage, is it Lust?

Song of Solomon 7

Expressions of Praise

How graceful are your feet in sandals,

O queenly maiden!

Your rounded thighs are like jewels,

the work of a master hand.

Your navel is a rounded bowl

that never lacks mixed wine.

Your belly is a heap of wheat,

encircled with lilies.

Your two breasts are like two fawns,

twins of a gazelle.

Your neck is like an ivory tower.

Your eyes are pools in Heshbon,

by the gate of Bath-rabbim.

Your nose is like a tower of Lebanon,

overlooking Damascus.

Your head crowns you like Carmel,

and your flowing locks are like purple;

a king is held captive in the tresses.

How fair and pleasant you are,

O loved one, delectable maiden!

You are stately as a palm tree,

and your breasts are like its clusters.

I say I will climb the palm tree

and lay hold of its branches.

O may your breasts be like clusters of the vine,

and the scent of your breath like apples,

and your kisses like the best wine

that goes down smoothly,

gliding over lips and teeth.

I am my beloved’s,

and his desire is for me.

Come, my beloved,

let us go forth into the fields,

and lodge in the villages;

let us go out early to the vineyards,

and see whether the vines have budded,

whether the grape blossoms have opened

and the pomegranates are in bloom.

There I will give you my love.

The mandrakes give forth fragrance,

and over our doors are all choice fruits,

new as well as old,

which I have laid up for you, O my beloved.

1 Peter 1:3-9

A Living Hope

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

One cannot consider a connection between God and lust without looking at Song of Solomon. It may not be the only example of lust, nor the worst example of it… but it is one of the longest and most spiritually approved instances of physical attraction. There is no way around it. Song of Solomon is a strange book to be in the Holy Bible.

The root of this peculiarity comes from its inclusion as scripture as we understand it. By and large, since the time of the [Reformation] we have expected scripture to be historically accurate accounts of God’s work in creation and words of praise or prayers dedicated to Him. In the case of Proverbs, they may be short teachings related to worshipping and following God. There is another kind of ancient literature as well though: allegory.

Allegory is when you write or speak about one thing and use it as a comparison to something else. C.S. Lewis wrote the Chronicles of Narnia in part as an allegory of the Christian faith. It does not matter if the stories are true or not. It only shows the relationship of the values being presented. Another biblical example is the book of Job. While we, by today’s standards would expect Job to be at least based upon a historical event. However, prior to the Reformation it was acceptable to use allegory as a means of communicating truth.

Song of Solomon was included into the Old Testament cannon because it served as an allegory to the kind of deeply personal and intimate love of God. That is to say, if a man and woman can desire one another this much, God can desire us even more. That really does not settle the weirdness though, unless we get it through our heads that allegory shows connection between two normally unlike things.

The word “love” itself falls prey to this instance all the time. We say we love our romantic partners. We love or children. We love pizza. If love meant the same thing in all three of these categories it would be criminal. So yes, God loves us like Song of Solomon describes, in terms of passion and desire, but not in the same way.

What then, does that have to do with His involvement in marriage? Well, first, let’s be honest and admit that marriages always involve more than just two people. If it were not so, there would be no such thing as mother-in-laws, and particular relationship created by marriage involving an outside person. Friends and family are all involved. Sometimes children are involved.

God becomes involved in marriages as a benefactor, or perhaps more simply as the Father of both bride and groom. He has expectations for both of them and gifts for both of them as well. 1 Peter tells us about an inheritance He is hoping to give us in that. He does not have a sexual agenda for us Himself, and His only contributions to sex are for our benefit, not His. Again, (think allegory) God does not want to be our mate. He wants to be our Lord, which is an entirely different relationship. The alternative of course is to have a marriage without His involvement. There is a long history of people who cast aside their families and friends to get married, and sometimes it works out for them in the end – particularly if they have unhealthy family systems. However, if God is a blessing to you, why would you not want to share Him with your spouse?

How is God involved in your marriage?

In what ways do you want God to be more involved?

7 Godly Sins? – the Greed of God

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7 Godly Sins? – the Greed of God

If God insists his followers pay tithes and offerings for His approval, is it Greed?

Psalm 16

Song of Trust and Security in God

A Miktam of David.

Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;

I have no good apart from you.”

As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble,

in whom is all my delight.

Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows;

their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out

or take their names upon my lips.

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;

you hold my lot.

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;

I have a goodly heritage.

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;

in the night also my heart instructs me.

I keep the Lord always before me;

because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices;

my body also rests secure.

For you do not give me up to Sheol,

or let your faithful one see the Pit.

You show me the path of life.

In your presence there is fullness of joy;

in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Song of Solomon 8:6-7

Set me as a seal upon your heart,

as a seal upon your arm;

for love is strong as death,

passion fierce as the grave.

Its flashes are flashes of fire,

a raging flame.

Many waters cannot quench love,

neither can floods drown it.

If one offered for love

all the wealth of one’s house,

it would be utterly scorned.

David, in Psalm 16 again, begins with a comment, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” While he undoubtedly is referring to a mixture of his moral attributes as well as the blessings he enjoys, this could also be interpreted to refer to financial and material “goods” as well. Or could it? Does that even make sense to claim that we own or possess nothing but God? Do we even own or possess God to begin with? But wait, look at that verse again. It does not claim that we own nothing but God, nor does it claim we own God. He claims he has no (good thing) that exists apart from God. In other words, while he may own things, everything he has was given to him originally by God. Whether it be food, land, money, or even spiritual blessings, David knows everything he has is a gift from God.

This creates in him a spirit of gratitude, which he expresses in this psalm (and many others). He claims he would never trade the true gift: the love of God, for any possession or blessing. He knew the true value of that love. So did his son Solomon, albeit from a different perspective. While David spent much of his life as a poor man, his son Solomon was one of the wealthiest kings of his era. He found out the hard way that wealth is no replacement for love. Real love, whether it be between lovers or between God and humankind, cannot be bought.

Why then, does God ask for material offerings and tithes? Not for His sake. He has no need of money. It is for our sake. We are made to serve something, and if we do not serve God, will give our lives away to something that love us less and will not take care of us. Indeed, Jesus perhaps put it the most plainly in His teaching from the Sermon on the Mount.

Matthew 7:19-24

Lay Up Treasures in Heaven

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

Greed is essentially the sin of a life lived in the service of money. God commands tithes and offerings to be used to take care of those who work specifically for him, to provide for their food and shelter… and also to provide for the poor, the traveling foreigner, the orphan, and the widow. Tithes and offerings do not show God’s greed, but instead show the way He teaches us the generosity He embodies towards us all.

What do you give on a regular basis, and to whom do you give it?

Where do you see the generosity of God most?

How do you reflect that generosity of God?

7 Godly Sins? – the Envy of God

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7 Godly Sins? – the Envy of God

If God punishes people for believing in a different God, is it Envy?

Exodus 15:1-181

The Song of Moses

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord:

“I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;

horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.

The Lord is my strength and my might,

and he has become my salvation;

this is my God, and I will praise him,

my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

The Lord is a warrior;

the Lord is his name.

“Pharaoh’s chariots and his army he cast into the sea;

his picked officers were sunk in the Red Sea.

The floods covered them;

they went down into the depths like a stone.

Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power—

your right hand, O Lord, shattered the enemy.

In the greatness of your majesty you overthrew your adversaries;

you sent out your fury, it consumed them like stubble.

At the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up,

the floods stood up in a heap;

the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea.

The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake,

I will divide the spoil, my desire shall have its fill of them.

I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.’

You blew with your wind, the sea covered them;

they sank like lead in the mighty waters.

“Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods?

Who is like you, majestic in holiness,

awesome in splendor, doing wonders?

You stretched out your right hand,

the earth swallowed them.

“In your steadfast love you led the people whom you redeemed;

you guided them by your strength to your holy abode.

The peoples heard, they trembled;

pangs seized the inhabitants of Philistia.

Then the chiefs of Edom were dismayed;

trembling seized the leaders of Moab;

all the inhabitants of Canaan melted away.

Terror and dread fell upon them;

by the might of your arm, they became still as a stone

until your people, O Lord, passed by,

until the people whom you acquired passed by.

You brought them in and planted them on the mountain of your own possession,

the place, O Lord, that you made your abode,

the sanctuary, O Lord, that your hands have established.

The Lord will reign forever and ever.”

Like many sins, love is often misconstrued as sin, and vice versa. Envy is one of those sins which is particularly susceptible to this misperception.

Looking at words or even watching actions from afar is often not enough to tell whether love is true or not. I can understand how someone could take a look at the 10 commandments and see envy present in God. After all, the first two commandments are about worshipping Him and Him alone. How could that not be envious?

Furthermore, the whole account of the Exodus of the Hebrew people from Egypt is like one giant example of God punishing people for not following Him, both from the Egyptians as well as among the Hebrew people themselves. Moses sings about this in his song that retells their experience escaping Egypt.

What exactly does it mean to belong to a God?

According to the Baal worship in Canaan, which was actually a collection of regional gods worshipped in similar ways, sacrifices were made in worship ceremonies. Most of these sacrifices were of grain or livestock. This was not unlike the sacrifices the Hebrews would offer YHWH. These sacrifices show that the Baal’s favor must be bought with regular offerings.

After the sacrifices the community would engage in sexual acts as a depiction of this God, and sometimes goddess of fertility. While I’m sure there were some that enjoyed this part of the service, I’m also sure that not everyone was their of their own choice. Young boys and girls were likely initiated into this practice against their will, the same way the are trafficked all over the world today.

In some cases, it was even worse. Gods like Dagon and Molech often demanded child sacrifices, burned along with their food offerings. Over time it would be understood by the people that everything they had, their bodies, and even their lives belonged to that God. They were slaves of a hungry, envious God.

YHWH was different though. He did not ask to have his favor earned ever. He asked only for gratitude for what He had already done. He forbade all human sacrifices and community sexual exploits. God’s laws were set up not so He would possess us, but so that His people would choose him each day.

Let’s look at those first two commandments from another perspective.

If a parent tells their children not to get into cars with strangers, we all understand that as a desire to keep the children safe, not to prevent them from possibly going home and being adopted by someone richer and/or more loving. We applaud that act and call it good parenting. Does that make them jealous of the affection of their children. Not necessarily. Or if a person sees children caught in an abusive situation or being neglected and wants to help them out by getting custody of them, does that make them envious? Not necessarily. In some cases it might be envy that is motivating the would-be caregivers, but often it is compassion instead.

I expect it is the term “caregiver” that makes the difference between envy and love. Is your God providing care or just asking for your devotion. Is your God demanding payment for services rendered, or merely looking for gratitude. This is what set God apart from all others in the Old Testament and it is what set Jesus apart from all the false teachers and messiahs in the New Testament as well.

What does your God ask of you?

What does your God provide for you?


  1. (Ex 14:13–14; Ps 78:12–14)

It is Finished!

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It is Finished!

John 18:1-111

The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus

After Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus replied, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they stepped back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.” This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken, “I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.” Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

John 18:12-14

Jesus before the High Priest

So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him. First they took him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was better to have one person die for the people.

John 18:15-182

Peter Denies Jesus

Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in. The woman said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing around it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself.

John 18:19-24

The High Priest Questions Jesus

Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. Jesus answered, “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.” When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” Jesus answered, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?” Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

John 18:25-27

Peter Denies Jesus Again

Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, “You are not also one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.

John 18:28-383

Jesus before Pilate

Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” They answered, “If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.” The Jews replied, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death.” (This was to fulfill what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)

Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate asked him, “What is truth?” “

John 18:39-19:424

Jesus Sentenced to Death

After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no case against him. But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” They shouted in reply, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a bandit.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.”

Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, “Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.”

When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, “Here is your King!” They cried out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but the emperor.” Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

John 19:16-305

The Crucifixion of Jesus

So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’ ” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill what the scripture says,

“They divided my clothes among themselves,

and for my clothing they cast lots.”

And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19:31-37

Jesus’ Side Is Pierced

Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, “None of his bones shall be broken.” And again another passage of scripture says, “They will look on the one whom they have pierced.”

John 19:38-426

The Burial of Jesus

After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

If you were there during the crufixion of Jesus, where do you think you would be and what role would you have played?

What feelings does this stir up in you?

Where do you most strongly sense God’s love in this event?


  1. (Mt 26:47–56; Mk 14:43–52; Lk 22:47–53)
  2. (Mt 26:69–75; Mk 14:66–72; Lk 22:54–62)
  3. (Mt 27:1–2, 11–14; Mk 15:1–5; Lk 23:1–5)
  4. (Mt 27:15–31; Mk 15:6–20; Lk 23:13–25)
  5. (Mt 27:32–56; Mk 15:21–41; Lk 23:26–49)
  6. (Mt 27:57–61; Mk 15:42–47; Lk 23:50–56)

Wearing God’s Commandments

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Wearing God’s commandments

Deuteronomy 11:18–28 (NRSV)

18 You shall put these words of mine in your heart and soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and fix them as an emblem on your forehead. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. 20 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the LORD swore to your ancestors to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.

22 If you will diligently observe this entire commandment that I am commanding you, loving the LORD your God, walking in all his ways, and holding fast to him, 23 then the LORD will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations larger and mightier than yourselves. 24 Every place on which you set foot shall be yours; your territory shall extend from the wilderness to the Lebanon and from the River, the river Euphrates, to the Western Sea. 25 No one will be able to stand against you; the LORD your God will put the fear and dread of you on all the land on which you set foot, as he promised you.

26 See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I am commanding you today; 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn from the way that I am commanding you today, to follow other gods that you have not known.

I had a friend several years ago who refused to wear a cross. He was a believer and follower of Jesus and now works as a missionary overseas, but he was convinced at the time that if you had to wear something to show you were a Christian, you probably were not living a Christian life the way you ought to. While it may seem a little odd to think about having the Ten Commandments hanging on your forehead and written on your hands, think about how many places we put crosses or other symbols of our faith. Our clothes, our jewelry, our cars… we even erect huge signs on the side of the road with messages about our faith. We may have gone a bit further than the Old Testament Law asked of the Jew.

I think Christians do that more, partially because we have a less complicated message. Jesus told us that the Old Testament Law could be summed up in only two commandments: Loving God, and Loving our neighbor as ourselves.

Most of us, bypass the whole commandment thing altogether and just use a cross with an entirely different message. That message, if not articulated well, can often sound like: “Join us or go to hell.”

The other way it can be misused is simply as a symbol of love. Honestly, between the two choices, I would rather make the mistake on the side of love rather than partisan spirituality. It is still not what Jesus taught though.

Both sets of commands (Old Testament and New Testament) begin with faithfulness and love toward God. Love of others is an important and integral part of following Jesus, but if you have to trade your relationship with God in order to love others, it probably is not real love.

The first message of the cross is that God so loved the world. The second part, which stands as our first example in response to God, is that Jesus so loved God that He came to earth willingly and went to the cross willingly. Jesus died in obedience to the will of the Father and Jesus died for love of us because the Father loved us. Philosophically, this gets really messy because Jesus is God and part of the Trinity, and because God is not subject to time the same way we are… but bear with me for just a moment. The human part of Jesus loved us because God asked Him to love us, and since Jesus loved God, the Father, Jesus wanted to love the things (and people) that the Father loved. It is here that we can truly see that loving others begins as a fulfillment of faithfully loving God.

But it doesn’t end there. I believe that love for one another may begin out of obligation, but as time passes, we find other unique reasons to love people. Jesus did not go through life telling people He only put up with them because God told Him to. No, He found unique reasons to love those around Him… and so should we.

The cross can still stand as our symbol of faith, one bar reminding us to look up and love God and the other reminding us to look alongside us and love our neighbors. It is God’s mercy that allows us to enter in to this relationship and His daily grace that helps us do it… and maybe we too need that daily reminder of who we are called to be hanging off our forehead, before our eyes, and written on our own hands.

Where do you see reminders of God’s call on your life today?

Beauty

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“Your eyes will see the king in his beauty;

they will behold a land that stretches far away.

Your mind will muse on the terror:

“Where is the one who counted?

Where is the one who weighed the tribute?

Where is the one who counted the towers?”

No longer will you see the insolent people,

the people of an obscure speech that you cannot comprehend,

stammering in a language that you cannot understand.

Look on Zion, the city of our appointed festivals!

Your eyes will see Jerusalem,

a quiet habitation, an immovable tent,

whose stakes will never be pulled up,

and none of whose ropes will be broken.

But there the Lord in majesty will be for us

a place of broad rivers and streams,

where no galley with oars can go,

nor stately ship can pass.

For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our ruler,

the Lord is our king; he will save us.” Isaiah 33.17-22 (NRSV)

Closely related to Christ’s gentleness is His beauty. Although, it is not popular in many cultures to call a man (or a boy) beautiful, God has, in Jesus Christ, everything that we would consider beauty.

Beauty may be subjective, or “in the eye of the beholder”, but it cannot be beautiful if it does not capture our attention. True beauty is that which draws us out of ourselves. The greatest kinds of beauty draw us out of ourselves and transform us into something beautiful ourselves.

This is Who God is. He is that greatest, true beauty. He speaks, and the whole world listens. The winds and the waves obey and lift Him up. The angels of heaven celebrate His birth alongside poor shepherds and pagan leaders. Those who followed, not even knowing what they would expect to find had their lives transformed right before them. Simeon and Anna in the temple waited their whole lives just to meet the newborn messiah. Jesus does not disappoint when we come to Him, just as He is, and just as we are.

But beauty draws the possibility of envy and jealousy as well. When we see the light we see ourselves more clearly and sometimes we don’t like what we see. We resist being drawn out of ourselves and retreat into the darkness to plan ways of wounding the beauty before us. It is sinful nature that invites us to fear what we cannot understand and hate what we cannot have.

Yet, despite our best (or worst) efforts, the beauty of God is not broken. The ugliness of the cross on which our Savior hung only made the majesty of the manger more real. The attempts to put out the light, surrounding it with darkness only made it shine brighter.

So to, the light of Christ, the true gift of Christmas, shines brightest in you and I when we face the darkness around us instead of flee from it. Do you want to be beautiful? Let Christ shine through you. Nothing else in this world can compare. You cannot dress, cover, color, or work your way to greater beauty than by simply letting the light of Christ shine in you. The Creator of beauty Himself made you just for that purpose.

  • Where do you see the beauty of God?
  • What do you see in your life that is not beautiful?
  • How can you bring the beauty of God to those places that need His light and love?

Bring your peace into our violence

Bid our hungry souls be filled

Word now breaking heaven’s silence

Welcome to our world

Friday December 23, 2016

Sour

Standard

Let me sing for my beloved my love-song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; he expected it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes. And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more was there to do for my vineyard that I have not done in it? When I expected it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes? And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and it shall be overgrown with briers and thorns; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the people of Judah are his pleasant planting; he expected justice, but saw bloodshed; righteousness, but heard a cry! Isaiah 5:1-7 (NRSV)

This is not your typical love song.

A vineyard is a special kind of gift. It is a creation of a home. Vineyards would provide some Ford provision for the family and a source of income. Digging a vineyard was like proposing a new family business.

Vineyards are not for the fainthearted. One business expert writes,

“Patience is a virtue — especially in the wine game. It takes at least two years for a vineyard to produce fruit and four years for the delivery of the first bottle of wine. If selling your wine is your dream or you are hoping to expand, you may want to buy grapes from elsewhere until your new properties yield fruit.”

So, perhaps like a good love song, there is challenge and no promise of quick and easy results. It takes patience and perseverance. It takes faithfulness.

But for all God’s faithfulness, his kingdom only produced sour fruit. Not only does this reflect on the land and vineyard, it ultimately reflects back on the one who created this vineyard in the first place. Any wine made to provide for the family would be rejected and the family reputation destroyed. With the reputation gone the only way for the family to survive would be to abandon the vineyard and start over.

If we are God’s vineyard, why does he keep giving us second, third, twentieth chances? Why does He not remove His blessing from us and just start over? Because of His love. God does not give up on us because His love is greater than all of our faults. He knows that sour grapes do not become sweet with harshness but only through kindness. This Advent season, in the midst of the cynicism around us, can you recognize God’s faithfulness.

  • Where has God shown you patient love?
  • How can you show God faithful love in return?
  • Who else in your life do you need to show patient, faithful love?

Amazing love, how can it be

That You my King would die for me

Amazing love, I know it’s true

It’s my joy to honor You

In all I do I honor You

Sunday December 4, 2016