Archive for September, 2009
Woah…this whole thing is great, but check out the “Seven Peaks of Azerbaijan” starting at about 15:00 into the video. If and when they get this thing completed, I have to go see it. (Now accepting donations)
Isaiah 38; Isaiah 39; Isaiah 40; Galatians 2:11-21; Galatians 3:1-9; Psalm 107:33-43 NIV
The story of Hezekiah found in Isaiah 38 and 39 makes me chuckle. This guy actually reminds me of a certain former president of ours with his self-confidence and his glass-half-full outlook on life. First, in chapter 38, he is told that he is going to die, to which he replies, “Remember, O LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.”
First, who of us could say that with a straight face? Second, who of us would say that and risk being struck down? I guess if you’re at the point of death, you don’t have much to lose, but Hezekiah’s boldness and self-confidence just make me laugh.
Then, in chapter 39, he shows the envoy from Babylon all of his riches – a pretty boastful thing to do – after which he is told that ALL of his riches, “everything in [his] palace” will be carried off to Babylon. Now, I don’t know about you, but if somebody told me that somebody was going to come, steal all my stuff, empty my bank accounts and haul my family off to another country, I doubt I would have the same response as Hezekiah.
“The word of the LORD you have spoken is good,” Hezekiah replied. For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my lifetime.”
Wha? Either this guy is the most over-confident dude ever, or he has his priorities mixed up – probably both. To Hezekiah, peace and security were more important than his people who would be dragged away and made eunuchs (look it up…not a fun process). Peace is good. Security is good. But at what price?
I think we make the same mistake sometimes. Maybe we look at financial security and are willing to sacrifice our families for it. Maybe we look at peace in our relationships and are willing to leave conflict unresolved to maintain the illusion that everything is OK. Whatever the case, we ignore or diminish the cost and celebrate or look forward to the achievement. But in the end, a wealthy but neglected family doesn’t feel secure. A relationship with no outward conflict, but with unresolved issues is anything but peaceful. But by the time we see the true cost of our actions, it is often too late.
My take? Peace and security have gotten in the way of a lot of people’s pursuit of God. May we not make the same mistake.
“It is this western desire to consume that is is the primary driver of organized crime” – Misha Glenny
Misha Glenny, explaining how the ingenuity and business acumen of mafia organizations has allowed them to prosper even in tough economic times, makes me wonder why all the smartest guys end up being criminals. What if some of these great minds were at work for God – figuring out the most effective ways of spreading the gospel, instead of spreading drugs and prostitution?
Isaiah 33; Isaiah 34; Isaiah 35; Galatians 1; Psalm 107:10-22 NIV
You conceive chaff,
you give birth to straw;
your breath is a fire that consumes you. - Isaiah 33:11
For those of us who have tried and failed to achieve things of significance on our own, we are acutely aware that we “give birth to straw” – that the things we try to create are often worthless. For others, they may have had a lot of success building things on their own. They may have a harder time swallowing these verses. You see, the chaff and straw were the parts of the wheat fields that were leftovers – the useless part.
Of course, to someone looking for a good deal on straw, I suppose the straw has value. And that is what we find so often in this life. We have redefined success to be those things that we are good at. In other words, on our own, we can build buildings, make money, have political or business power, etc. Therefore, we look at those things, gather them together and then call them success. That way, when we achieve any of these things, we can feel successful.
The problem though, with success as with straw, is that no matter how we define it, the “best” of the wheat (and of life) is not found in the straw or “successes” that we dabble in. The best is something other – something only found when we leave the straw behind and run to catch up with the harvester. God, the great harvester is working hard in this world. His definition of success is very different from ours. His understanding of the wheat field is much greater than ours. Therefore, it’s only when we decide to move past the straw of this world, that we get a real glimpse of the best that’s out there.