Friday, February 24, 2017

Acts 2:22-28

Acts 2:22-28
English Standard Version (ESV)

  Do you realize who it is that loves you?  Jesus Christ was part of the definite plan of God, and death itself could not hold him, and yet he was willing to give up his life so that you might be redeemed from your sin!!  He was so powerful that death was overwhelmed by him, and this is the man who loves you mercifully, who forgives your sins and leads you into everlasting life as the shepherd leads his sheep into green pastures where abundance grows.
  David had moments where he understood this -- you can sense it in the Psalms, when he recognizes that the God who is so intimate is the same God who carves the mountains from the rocks.  The God who sits on high is the very God who rushes to our defense.
  We should be in constant awe of this God, of this relationship.  Our path of life is made possible because the stones have been laid by an infinite God whose greatest desire is to know us fully and be fully known by us.  This is the life that is truly life -- to be in relationship with Almighty God.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

acts 2:14-21

Acts 2:14-21
English Standard Version (ESV)

  The longer I live, the more I recognize how little control I have in the world.  I try and control what I can, and I often try and control what I can't, but it's a big, big world, and there are so many forces beyond my control.  Just driving down the freeway is a good reminder of how small I am -- so many cars are careening this way and that while the driver answers some vital email that it's all I can do to safely arrive at my destination.
  And so when I look beyond the stars and wonder at the God who crafted it all, I can't help but be grateful that Peter spells out very clearly what the path forward through it all is:  to call upon the name of the Lord is to be saved.  To bow the knee and confess him as Lord is to transfer responsibility from myself to Jesus Christ, the Holy and Risen Son of God.  At that point, it's not about how small I am, but it's about how big God is.  I am no longer lost as an insignificant speck in the mass of humanity, but I acknowledge that God has formed my inward parts and loves me as a unique child of God.  I am beloved and I am saved, because I am His.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Off to Be the Wizard (Magic 2.0)

  I finished Off to be the Wizard, the first in Scott Meyer's Magic 2.0 series.  It's a fun read about a man who discovers computer code that allows him to change his life, quickly leading him into trouble with the modern law before sending him back to 12th century England to be a wizard, only to discover that he's not the first programmer to chart this unique course.  I enjoyed the book, and there's enough action to keep the pages turning.  It's not a terribly challenging read, but it's nice to have something light-hearted, considering that 9 out of every 10 articles on the internet today have to do with Donald Trump.
  Off to Be the Wizard is a wonderful cautionary tale about what can happen when you suddenly have unexpected power.  If you were granted the ability to make every wish come true, to give yourself infinite wealth, would that solve every problem?  The short answer, demonstrated sadly by large numbers of lottery winners, is that the answer is no.  So often, people who come into large amounts of wealth discover that riches can bring great tribulation into life.  Having your dreams come true doesn't always mean what we think it might mean.  I walked by the powerball notice today, which is now at $410MM, and it's easy to think that would solve all my problems.  It might solve some of them, but I imagine it would create different ones.
  As a Christian, I am taught that true satisfaction comes only from Christ.  The world offers satisfaction, but often the things it promises don't match up with reality.  It offers products or relationships that should satisfy needs or wants, but these often tend to be temporary satisfactions, and I end up craving more.  My appetite grows and grows, and this can lead to dangerous cycles.  What started out promising to satisfy ends up dominating my life and leaving me empty and alone.
  In Christ, our true needs to love and companionship are met.  This is why the Bible talks so much about being rich toward God -- monetary wealth can be wonderful in some ways, but it can also leave us being fearful and anxious.  There is no room for fear when we are rich in God -- for that cannot be taken away from us.  When we are rich in God, we are fed by Him, and that fills the soul in the way a good meal cannot.  When we are embraced by Him, we experience an unconditional love the world cannot duplicate.  When we are truly satisfied by Him, we come to learn that nothing the world can offer can duplicate that sensation.

Acts 2:5-13

Acts 2:5-13
English Standard Version (ESV)

    To think those Jews had no idea what was in store for them when they gathered.  Some probably had high expectations for the festival, but none expected anything like Pentecost.  This was a new thing, and God had gathered a crowd to take an active role, even though they surely didn't expect sure miracles.
  This is the role of the church.  We are to show up, ready to worship but also ready for God to do a new thing, for God to reveal a new course for us to chart.  We have a role of active listening -- we can't be so certain of what will happen that we block out any room for God to do the unexpected.  This is why we have Sabbath - so we can devote ourselves to attending to what God has to say to us.  We aren't merely following a rut -- God is at work, and it's up to you and I to show up, every day, with hearts ready to be inspired by the work of the Holy Spirit among and within us.