Monday, 15 February 2016

Scriptural Musings

                                                       David Counts the Fighting Men
                                                      2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21

I've struggled in the past whenever I would read the story of David counting the fighting men. Why should 70,000 men die for one man's sin? Sin is serious, yet shouldn't each die for there own sin? Yet in 2 Samuel 24:1, we see God Himself (some translation say His anger) incited David against Israel to count the fighting men. If God Himself incited David, how then was it sin? Yet later in 1 Chronicles 21:1, it credits Satan with inciting David against Israel and into counting the fighting men. So was it the Lord, was it His anger, or was it Satan? Or was it the Lord through Satan? Was it God inviting David into dialogue and a place of intercession?

When I asked God why He would slay 70,000 for the sin of one man, I felt as though His answer was also in the form of a question, "Were they themselves without sin? Could they not have died for their own sin?" What if they did die for their own sin? What if David's sin was a reflection of their (the nation's) sin and rebellion, and David's coming into agreement with it? And therefore he stepped out of the gap, out of his role as an intercessor, and therefore God's wrath was released? Was David's sin not just his own, but a reflection of what was going on in the nation? "Again the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel." 2 Samuel 24:1a.

Would God incite David to step out of his role as an intercessor? Would God incite David through Satan to step out of his role as an intercessor so that His wrath might be released? Was the Lord's anger an invitation for David to intercede for them? And David dropped the ball by coming into agreement with the wrong spirit, and counting the fighting men? Was the Lord obligated (can I use that word with Him?) to go through David first to pour out judgement on the sin in the nation? Since they were under his spiritual covering (which I'm not really sure what spiritual covering means, but it's something I'm delving into to learn more on)? And the Lord could not pour out His wrath as long as David was standing in the gap? Even as He had to tell Jeremiah to not pray for this people, nor plead or make petition? Did the Lord allow or incite David into acting on the sin that was in the heart of the nation? And was Satan inciting the sin of Israel, and therefore David's sin too?

In 2 Samuel 24:17, David saw the angel who was striking the people, and he stepped in as an intercessor. "Surely I have sinned, and I have done wickedly; but these sheep, what have they done? Let Your hand, I pray, be against me and against my father's house." (A truly bold prayer, and a testament to his heart as an intercessor). The Lord sent God who told David what to do, and David bought the threshing floor and offered burnt offering and peace offerings. "So the Lord heeded the prayers for the land, and the plague was withdrawn from Israel." 2 Samuel 24:25b.

What if the Lord chose to work through David's spiritual authority and act of sin, so that there would be an intercessor in place when His heart was moved to relent from His destruction and outpouring of wrath? What if He worked through David so that he would be able to hold a place of greater intercession? David did not see the angel who was striking the people (in verse 17) until after the Lord saw Jerusalem and relented from destruction (verse 16a, "And when the angel stretched out his hand over Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented from the destruction, and said to the angel who was destroying the people, "It is enough, now restrain your hand."). After the Lord relented, then David saw the angel and interceded for the people. Had the Lord poured out His wrath apart from it being through David, would He have then had an intercessor in place? Would He then have had a means of mercy? Can He show mercy without an intercessor? Could He have poured out His anger apart from David? Or no, because David was standing in the gap? Could He have judged the nation while they were under David's spiritual covering and he was standing in the gap in a place of intercession and holiness? These are just some of my thoughts, but what do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts, please comment and share!

   *Disclaimer, a lot of this is written in question form to provoke the reader to further thought and dialogue with the Holy Spirit (Whom the Scriptures say will teach us all things), and not meant to be taken as doctrine or solid stances.       

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Matthew 10:9-10

My thoughts and musings on Matthew 10:9-10.

“Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, 
nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, 
nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food.”
Matthew 10:9-10 NKJV

“Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, 
no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals 
or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food.”
Matthew 10:9-10 ESV

“Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts.”
I have neither gold, nor silver, nor copper. I have no back up plan. I have no man-made provision. I have no worldly worth nor position. It’s only You Jesus. You are my Provider. You are enough. I have no back up plan for your provision. I carry no worldly currency, the only currency I carry is hunger for God. 

Gold, I have no riches in the eyes of the world. My currency, hunger, is not guaranteed by the standards of the world. The currency of the world does not apply to me because I live by another system. 
Silver, I have no standing in the eyes of the world. I have no recognition. I have no means of bribery or appeasement in this world.
Copper, I have no trade in the world. I have no worldly conductant.     

“No bag for your journey.”
No means of storing up for yourself the things of this world. No means to store up worldly possessions. No way to carry the things or cares or riches of this world. I carry no baggage. 

“Nor two tunics.”
I have only one tunic. I have but one identity. I wear the clothes of righteousness that Your Son purchased for me on the cross. I wear only the tunic that my Father placed around my shoulders. I have no other identity apart from the wedding garments of my Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. I have no other association, I have no other means or appearance of righteousness.    

“Or sandals.”
No sandals. Exodus, 3:5b, “Take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” Nothing that hinders my closeness to God. Nothing that hinders my expression of holiness. The things that aren’t necessarily bad, even the good things of this world, but that affect my closeness His holiness. I take them off. I cast them far from my dwelling. I freely forsake the good things of this world, to better experience Your presence. To better experience Your goodness and Your holiness. I throw off anything that hinders. Anything that keeps me from being just a little closer to You. I do anything to get just a little closer God. I let no personal comfort come in between my being, and Your presence.  

“Nor a staff.”
No thing of the world to lean on. No thing of the world to support me when I am weak. No worldly comforts. I desire it so that I must always draw my strength from You, O Lord. I recognize where my strength comes from. I carry no thing that keeps my hands closed to You. Nothing that allows my fists to remain closed. I want to be open handed before You and ready to receive. I do not carry a means to sound out Your way ahead of me. Nothing of this world to check out the path that You have set before my feet. Nothing that lessens my reliance in faith on You. No wisdom of the world to determine if Your path is good. If Your ways are right. I want to come up from the desert leaning on You, not on a support system that comes from the world. Song of Songs 8:5a, “Who is this who comes up from the desert leaning on her Beloved?” I want You to be my steadying source of strength.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Un-Beheld Beauty

   No revelation is too simple. As a young, emerging prophetic theologian, sometimes I don’t realize the worth in simple revelations. The ones that seem obvious, the ones that I’ve heard before, my pride disdains. But as I fall more and more in love with Jesus, and as my pride is being stripped away by the glory of His mercy, I have come to realize that no revelation is too simple. No revelation is to be disdained. The little things are beautiful in the sight of God. The “obvious” things have the power to change a broken and blind world. The things I’ve heard before, someone else hasn’t, and is groping in darkness without it. The things I’ve heard before, are where much of the depth of my walk comes from because I was raised in the Lord. The things I once disdained, were the things of God. I disdained the beauty of heaven, to search for beauty unseen, without realizing the beauty of heaven contained the beauty unseen. It contained depths I hadn’t seen. The seemingly simple things had oceans of untold beauty, I had just yet to see it. 

   The beauty of the cross has hit me anew. The beauty and awe of things like, "God loves me." "Jesus died for me", has once again struck my heart. Things I once grew cold to, and that were too simple for me to dedicate time to meditate on before, are now making my heart come alive so that I can't help but meditate on them. The love of the Man who hung on a cross has ruined me for any other lovers. I am lovesick, and I am ruined for any other love. 

   The beauty of artwork, the crafting of words, the expression of creativity has struck me in new ways. Even poetry, which I once disdained, I have begun to love. The art of crafting words, especially around the heart of God and of the cross, has awakened a new delight in my heart.  

                  “The prophecy of a tongue,
                      the laying on of hands,
                       the feeding of the hungry,
                        the hope of the righteous,
                       the redemption of the broken, 
                        the freeing of the bound, 
                      This is the heart of God. 
                    The love of the cross, 
                       The victory of the empty tomb, 
                         The hope of the Nations, 

                  This is my Jesus, 
                                 this is my Friend.”


Friday, 26 June 2015

Kissing The Toilet

              I started this post months ago, and just now have the time and revelation to finish it.

   This evening I was in the bathroom with my puppy Reagan. I was washing my hands while she was on the floor, and she walked over to the toilet. Now, Reagan is a sweetheart, and she loves to give kisses. So as soon as she walked over I knew what she was going for. Sure enough before I got to her she licked the side of the toilet a few times. I promptly scooped her up and she started licking me! Somehow her kisses did not seem so sweet, and were rather off putting because I knew she had just been kissing the toilet! I started thinking about how often I do the same thing to God. I defile my lips and being by "kissing the toilet" myself. I give praise to things I shouldn't give praise to, I say things I shouldn't say, I give my time to things I shouldn't give my time to, I meditate on things I shouldn't meditate on. I watch, listen to, read and write things I shouldn't. I give my being and my love to so many distractions of the world. And then I so quickly turn around to God and start giving Him my kisses. And somehow, He still loves them.

   I vowed to save my first kiss for the alter, because I didn't want to defile my lips before God*. Yet how often do I freely give my kisses to the toilet? I also wanted my first kiss to be special, and to be a gift I saved and treasured for my future husband at the alter. But how often do I freely kiss idols, and then expect my kisses to God to be special and a treasured gift I saved for Him?

   To be holy for Him, and wholly for Him, is what I desire. I desire to know no other than Him, to "not even let their names be found on my lips."** I want to be so in love with Yeshua that none other compares, and that none other can hold my attention for even a moment. I want to be so captivated by His beauty that I never look away, never once to turn my gaze. I want to be wholly His.

   What's it to be to know only Him? What's it like to never look away? What do the angels in the throne room feeling after an eternity of His presence? What do the Elders feel after the thousandth casting of the crowns? That's what I long to know. Jesus for eternity.

*This was something I felt called to, but I don't believe it is for everyone. I do not believe anyone who has kissed a guy before the alter has defiled their lips! I just believe for me, as one who is called not to, that to do so would be to forfeit God's best in that area.

**Exodus 23:13, "Pay attention to all that I have said to you, and make no mention of the names of other gods, nor let it be heard on your lips."

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Vision Post Follow Up

   So, awhile ago I shared a vision I had. This week I wanted to follow that up with an application post for some of the things I touched on in that post.

   "How do we build infrastructure and strategy ahead of time so we can actually handle growth when it comes? And how do we partner with God’s heart/what He is doing in a way that we can sustain it?" I think the answer to this lies largely in cultivating discipleship and keeping our focus on intimacy with Jesus. We need to be discipling people and growing together with others, and we need to be discipled ourselves. We need to raise up the people beneath us in holiness and going after God. "Teach what we know, learn what we don't." We need to be constantly seeking out people to take us deeper in our walk with God, and we need to constantly be helping others grow in their pursuit of Him. But more importantly, we need to be focused on intimacy with God. We need to keep our gaze on Him.

   In a family, life naturally comes out of the husband and wife's intimacy. Life does not come from the children. Our relationship with God is as a relationship of a husband and wife. So are our ministries and spiritual children (those we disciple) as children in a family. Our ministries do not bring life into our relationship with God. Our relationship with God brings life into our ministries and relationships with our spiritual children. So often we lose our focus and expect our life source to be from how well are ministries are faring, and how successful our spiritual children are. But is that the natural? Does the life and vibrancy in a marriage result from how well the children are faring? No! No amount of life and well being in children can keep a marriage that lacks intimacy together! Rather the husband and mother foster an atmosphere where there children can be vibrant and grow strong by having a healthy relationship and intimacy together. The health in the home comes from the health of that relationship. Is that not how it is in the natural? Then why should we expect different in the spiritual? "First the natural, then the spiritual." The health in our relationship with God fosters an atmosphere where our ministries and spiritual children can grow and be strong. (That's not to say that if there is difficulty with a ministry or spiritual child that it is always because of a lack of intimacy with God, for there are winter seasons where fruit is evident, but it is often a factor.) Our intimacy with Christ is where the life in our ministries should come from! 

   The way to keep revival going, the way we partner with God's heart in a way to sustain it, is to keep our focus on intimacy. To keep our focus on Christ and Christ alone, and let our ministries flow our of that place of intimacy.   

   Many of these thoughts were inspired by Nathan Davenport's teaching on Intimacy/Meeting with God. You can listen to it here!teachings/cv40

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

God and Hamsters

It’s amazing how much hamsters can teach us about God and ourselves and how the world works.

God and Hamsters: A Theological Exploration
Tonight I heard a sermon illustration featuring hamsters, which has given me a lot of food for thought. It puts this whole strange world and life thing in simple and relatable terms. 

The pastor’s daughters had two pet hamsters, and they put them in a wonderful hamster cage. This cage had everything a hamster’s heart could desire: wheels, tunnels, treats, companionship, lots of food and water. However, one of the hamsters dreamed of a better life, because he started digging through the wall of the cage. The pastor took note of it, but decided to wait until it got worse before he patched the hole. 

Well, the hamster was more determined than he’d guessed, for one night it made its escape.

But the pastor knew something that the little hamster didn’t. Outside of the cage was a cat. The cat’s purpose was to devour the local mice population, but being a well-fed cat he more often nibbled on the mice rather than kill them outright. He was a sadistic torturer, gnawing on rodents before releasing them and catching them again. 

This hamster was in for a world of hurt.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Validity Of Context

   Often you hear people caution against taking verses out of context. Their cautions are valid, but what if by limiting ourselves to surrounding verse and chapter context we end up missing things? What if we miss incredible truth and life in the Bible if we aren't pulling verses and phrases and even half sentences out of the Bible? What if we are trying to put the Scriptures in a box, albeit in a box made of Scripture? What if we had a better standard than just context? Or what if context included the whole Bible, not just the verse and chapter? 

Many scholars and Christians warn that you will be prone to misinterpret verses if you take them out of context, and they warn that you can make the Bible say anything you want to if you take verses out of context. Both of which I entirely agree with. You can misinterpret verses if you take them out of context. And you can make the Bible say anything you want it to say if you take verses out of context. But what if we are missing a wealth of Scriptural life by refusing to look at verses outside of the immediate verse/chapter context? What if we are limiting Scripture and refusing to let it come alive in ways it is meant to come alive in?

So what is the validity of context? Is the context argument valid? I believe that context is important. But what then constitutes context? And what then constitutes taking a verse out of context? 

When I first started putting verse on my pictures I was so careful to not take verses out of context. I often would use longer passages to avoid the risk of not giving enough context. I was concerned about accidentally making Scripture to say something it didn't say, by taking a verse out of proper context. As I have gotten older the Scriptures have become alive to me like never before. Without realizing it I threw such caution to the wind. What I cared about was accurately portraying God's heart and bringing to light verses that often get overlooked. I started pulling out half verses and phrases and even parts of sentences to highlight parts that came alive for me. I was eager to share what made my heart come alive.

I have seen such power and life come from seemingly taken out of context verses lately that it has begun to make me wonder. After much thought and contemplation of context (and the validity of it in properly interpreting Bible verses/passages) I had an interesting thought. What if the context argument was indeed valid, but rather what we were deeming context to be was off? Context is typically defined as the text directly surrounding a verse that tell the events/circumstances in which a verse was written.* But what if deeming only the directly surrounding verses a passage's context was putting the Scriptures in a box? What if it was only a piece of the story? What if we didn't limit our interpretation to verses in their direct passage context, but rather in light of the Scriptures as a whole?   

I think if we broadened our view to not just the few surrounding verses, but to the whole Bible we will have a much better standard. For me, the standard I use in my artwork is whether or not it lines up with the rest of Scripture. The Bible does not contradict itself, so obviously if we have a contradiction then we're the ones in error. But if it lines up with the rest of Scripture and can be supported by other passages than you probably didn't pull anything out of context. 

   2 Timothy 2:15 in the NKJV says, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." In the ESV it says, "Rightly handling the word of truth." I think we need to know our Bibles well enough and be saturated in Scripture enough that we can go beyond verse chapter context and use the Bible in it's entirety for our context. We need to be students of the Scriptures and students of the Holy Spirit. The word is living and active, and we need to be asking Holy Spirit to bring it to life for us. The Bible is a living document and we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us. The life and truth contained in the Scriptures is beyond imagination, and is worth seeking out.

*It can also refer to the historical context a passage was written during, however for the sake of brevity I am only referencing and dealing textual context in this post. 

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