Monday, June 18, 2007

A New Covenant

“He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:6

The concept of this verse has recently changed the way I view my relationship with God and my relationship with others – especially with my children.

When Jesus said “it is finished”[1] he ended the covenant established with the Ten Commandments[2]. When Jesus said “this cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you”[3] he introduced a totally different agreement between mankind and God.

“Do you not know… that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives?... by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” Romans 7:1, 6

Have you ever thought about the concept of no law? We assume that laws are written to improve relationship and avoid chaos. However, law brings punishment. Grace brings kindness and peace.

Without law, there is no judgment (Romans 8:1-2). Think about that. Are you living under grace or under law?

Lord, may we live in the freedom you have given us through the fulfillment of the old covenant. May we recognize that being “good” is not valid in the new covenant. May we minister by the new covenant which gives life.

[1] John 19:30

[2] Exodus 34:10-28

[3] Luke 22:20

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Where are your stones?

In the future, when your children ask you, 'What do these stones mean?' tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever." Joshua 4:6-7

At a Life Purpose Facilitation I was instructed to write down ten significant moments from my life – events that had changed the way I lived or my perspective of life. I can see now where God was present in all of them. But only the ones that I recognized his presence at the time do I have “a stone” as a reminder for my children or others to see.

Those around us, especially our children, need to know how God has impacted our life. One stone in my house is a picture of our stillborn son. His blood red coloring and tiny lifeless body draw attention to those who visit. Many are struck with sadness at first. But then I tell them of God’s loving arms around me during that time and how we learned to trust God through the experience.

What can you show to your children so that they know your faith is real and not just a story of an invisible God?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Life and Death

Last week a friend told me of her struggles to control circumstances concerning her children.

Yesterday a friend described how her joy had seeped out over of a period of time without her realizing it.

Today a four year old girl named Riley will be told her daddy is dead.

Life and death. What is it all about? What’s the purpose?

I asked that question many times in my teens up through my late thirties. Now in my forties, I’m getting a glimpse of the real meaning of this life. My understanding is probably equivalent to Riley’s understanding her daddy’s death. But whether I understand it or not doesn’t change the facts. Death is the absence of life and Jesus is Life.

My biggest spiritual (and therefore emotional which leads also to physical) struggle plays out in my thoughts.

Sometimes it is a struggle to control circumstances.

The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" *

When things aren’t going the way I want them to go, I can easily come up with a plan to let someone else know the thoughts that are feeding my actions. This verse reminds me that my response to this world is much more satisfying if I allow God to feed my thoughts and actions like a mother bird feeding her young.

Sometimes the struggle is in my expectations of others.

"If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written: "'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'" Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" *

Leadership in any area is exhausting – including the leadership role of “Mom.” I often forget that God is giving me the opportunity to work with him. It’s not about getting others to work with me. An example of this is in watching my head-strong son try to take on the role of parent in the neighborhood then expect me to support him when the other child or their parent strikes back.

The most recurring battle in my mind is the desire to just enjoy a comfortable life.

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me." Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'"*

Sometimes I just want to enjoy the whole spectrum of pleasures available in this world. But the truth is this world and its physical pleasures do not last forever. Whether I choose to live it as if I own it or hide from the worldly pleasures as if they don’t exist, people are leaving this world without the thrill of worshiping the Lord your God and serving him only.

God is continually reminding me that I experience life by trusting him. He is perfect love. Life is all about experiencing his love. Sometimes love hurts terribly when imperfect people are involved. God knows that pain too.

That pain makes us want to take control of the circumstance, other people, and the pleasure of life. But when we do that, we’re not experiencing life any more. We experience death and that hurts worse than love ever will.

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Eph 3:19

* From Matthew 4:1-11

Monday, June 04, 2007

Servant of the Lord Your God

“Dear God, Why did Joshua keep saying ‘servant of the Lord your God’ when he was referring to Moses when the people already knew that?”

We’ve tried various ways to encourage our kids to read their Bible daily but it always ends up to be dreaded routine. My desire is that they will discover the Bible to be exciting dialogue with an awesome God – not rules and regulations that threaten their enjoyment of this gift of life.

Over the past year my nearly ten year old son as become absorbed in a book series called A Series of Unfortunate Events. The stories are filled with conflict, mystery, and sadness. Lemony Snicket is a great author but he can’t match the real life series of unfortunate events found in the Old Testament.

So, I encouraged...uh suggested...ok, I told my son to read the book of Joshua and write something in his journal each time he reads – a question, thoughts that intrigued him, anything that came to mind while reading. The question beginning this blog is from him.

The thing I love most about studying the Bible with kids is their questions. So why did Joshua keep referring to Moses as “servant of the Lord your God” when the Israelites already knew that about Moses? My simple response, “I don’t know.” But let’s think about that question.

We have had some outstanding leaders in our contemporary Christian culture - people like Mother Teresa and Billy Graham. Most of us see these individuals as exceptional people who have done far greater things than we could ever do. But the truth is they are simply servants of the Lord your God. Well, that is if Yahweh of the Old Testament is your God.

When I asked my son if he knew what “lord” meant, he responded with the common reference to Lord as a ruler in a kingdom. I suggested he think of Lord as in landlord – one who owns property that someone else uses for a period of time.

Look around you: Everything you see is God's - the heavens above and beyond, the Earth, and everything on it. Deuteronomy 10:14

Perhaps Joshua was simply reminding the Israelites not to worship Moses for his accomplishments – or fault him for his “self-moments” that kept him from entering the promised land. The same should hold true for us today. Mother Teresa and Billy Graham are examples of outstanding leadership not because of what they accomplished but because they show us how to be servants of the Almighty God.

God gave me a dream of speaking but even if I don’t step foot in the promised speaking arena, I want my kids to remember me as a servant of the Lord their God.

How about you? Are you focused more on accomplishing the tasks in which your Lord has allowed you to participate or being his servant each step along the way? It’s a question I have to ask myself every day.

the mission:
PROCLAIM the good news; HEAL the sick and oppressed; BRING JUSTICE
~ Luke 4:16-20

Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing (John 14:12)
~ Jesus 

Copyright 2005-2010 Lisa Biggs Crum
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