Thursday, December 27, 2007

On peace and feces

Perhaps you've heard that the toilet was invited by a guy called Thomas Crapper. I finally decided to look it up tonight. What a jip. Thomas Crapper didn't invent the toilet but he did have a very successful plumbing business and had his last name plastered all over manhole covers and toilets. Quite the legacy.

So I've been going through some crap for the past two weeks.

Emotional crap is tricky business. Just when you think you've got a lid on it, something happens and you get to deal with the crap all over again. I feel flushed. I feel totally wiped. Heh. Seriously.

Anywho, I've been wrestling with some severe emotional heartaches and heartbreaks lately and trying to keep my eyes on God for some sanity. A friend of mine had a verse for me tonight:

"You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You." Isa. 26:3

Interesting. All I have to do for the peace I so desperately crave right now is to keep God on my mind and to plain ol', flat out trust Him. Hmmm. That isn't so easy when I feel like crap.

I found a few other verses that go along with that..

"'I create the fruit of the lips:
Peace, peace to him who is far off and to him who is near,'
Says the Lord,
'And I will heal him.'" Isa. 57:19

"..Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives I give to you.." John 14:27,28

"..and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:7

So I guess that my conclusion is that crap is going to happen and it's going to stink. It must be dealt with eventually. As much as I wanna pick up the phone and make a bigger mess of things, I'm going to keep my mind on the Lord and trust Him. He knows what's up. I don't need to panic or be depressed. What's important is that I recall to my mind that my God is orchestrating this season of my life and will work out the crap that seems to be stinking up my world at the moment.

OH and I just remembered another verse about crap..

"Then Ehud reached with his left hand, took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly. Even the hilt went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not draw the dagger out of his belly; and his entrails came out." Jgs 3:20-22

The sword went in and the crap came out. So, too, the Sword of the Spirit goes into my life and the crap comes flowing out.

Here's the magic of the whole thing: God can actually take our crap and turn it into a thing of beauty and value. I have no idea how but God is really good at doing that. Earlier this month, I heard about the International Rhino Foundation auctioning off dried rhino poop on eBay for wildlife conservation funding. How much more creative and ingenious is my God than those rhino people?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Pass the fruitcake..

Have you ever heard Christians talk about being fruitful?

Fruitful. Bearing fruit. FRUIT. What the crap? Are they all gay? Health nuts? What then?

"Fruit" in the Bible is symbolic. Just like an apple tree produces apples, healthy Christian produce fruit. Track with me and lets explore this..

What exactly is the fruit that the Bible talks about? Here are a few specific examples:

Turning from sin and leading a holy life (Rom. 6:22)
Good works (Col. 1:10)
Leading people to Christ (Rom. 1:13)
Praising God (Heb. 13:15)
Giving tithes and offerings (Rom. 15:28)

And these are all summed up in the ultimate fruit
LOVE! (Gal 5:22)

Soooo.. you may be saying, "Bill, that's great but I really don't care!"

Do you realize that God doesn't exist for you? YOU exist for God. (Col. 1:16) You and I were created for HIS pleasure and glory. I cannot find satisfaction in life if I'm not bearing fruit!!! It's true. I've tried it and so have zillions of other people but to no avail. I must bear fruit to find contentment, satisfaction, and to bring pleasure to God. After all, the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

Check it..

On his deathbed, Jacob referred to his favorite son Joseph:
"Joseph is a fruitful bough,
A fruitful bough by a well;
His branches run over the wall." Gen 49:22

Joseph was fruitful in every one of the ways I mentioned earlier. So, what's the secret of Joseph being fruitful? Simple: he was by a well. See, throughout the Word of God, the Bible is symbolized by water (Eph. 5:26). Joseph planted his roots in the waters of the scriptures. He grounded himself in God's truths and precepts. "He [the person that delights and meditates in the Word of God] shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in it season, whose leaf also shall not wither, and whatever he does shall prosper." Ps. 1:3
That's the key, Gang! The fruit naturally starts popping out as we're meditating on the Word of God. Joseph's roots were sunk deeply in the waters and it kept him from shriveling up and drying out.

Here's the key to this whole concept..

Jesus said in John 15

"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away [or lifts up] and every branch that bears fruit He prunes [or washes], that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoke to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing."

The word for "takes away" is "airo" in the Greek. It means to lift up. In a vineyard, the vinedressers lift up any branch that is down in the mud and prop them up on a stick or something so that they can start bearing fruit. The ones that are already bearing fruit are pruned (or washed) so that they'll bear even more fruit. This is what God is doing with you and me. How? The very next sentence says "You are already clean because of the WORD..." That's it! As we ABIDE in Christ and let the waters of the Word wash through us, we'll produce fruit. Fruit cannot be faked (well, not for long). It just naturally starts popping out as we're attached to the Vine and receiving the waters of the Word.

The last part of Gen 49:22 mentions that Joseph's branches ran over the wall. The idea is that his fruitfulness affected people around him. (Actually, a whole nation was saved from famine because of Joseph, but that's for another day.) As you and I bear fruit, our families, coworkers, friends, and neighbors will get blessed and refreshed by that fruit.

We're never supposed to try, force, or strain to be fruitful. Just hang in there, Homie. Be a branch, hang in there, and abide in the Vine. Let His truths and scriptures permeate your life. Without even trying, you'll find yourself loving people and producing much fruit. God will be glorified. You'll be satisfied. People around you will be blessed and refreshed. Woot, woot.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Totally righteous, Dude!!

What's up mah Homies?!

I've been chewing on this rockin verse this week -

"For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Cor. 5:21

Jesus died for me. I get that. I'm a big fat jerk and Jesus died in my place for my sin. However, the second part of the verse is blowing my mind this week. Not only did Jesus die for my sin but I have become totally righteous as well. It's the doctrine of substitutionary atontment.

You're saying, "umm, what?"

Ok, look. Jesus died a brutal bloody death for my sins. On that day, Jesus was totally butchered and nailed because of my crap. God treated Jesus AS THOUGH HE HAD LIVED MY LIFE.

But that's only the first half….

God now looks at me AS THOUGH I LIVED JESUS' LIFE. See, Jesus was absolutely perfect. He never had a temper tantrum as a baby. He never stole his brother's toy as a child. He never flipped through a Playboy as a teen. He never got caught up in money and greed as a young man. He was totally righteous for 33 years. That perfect life is now pinned on ME. God treated Jesus on that day as if Jesus had lived my life and God now views me as if I had lived Jesus' life.

This is why Jesus didn't come for a weekend, die on the cross, and go back to heaven. Why did he live 33 years on this earth? It was not primarily to relate to people or teach or be an example, though that happened as well. The primary reason Jesus came for that many years was to switch lives with me (and you, too). He lived the perfect life on my behalf and then died the death that I deserved. AMAZING.

How does this change me today? Today, I am totally convinced that God is going to bless me, take care of me, and have incredible favor upon me. It's not because I'm a good guy – I'm not. It's because I have literally BECOME the righteousness of God IN Christ. I don't totally get it but I'm really glad about it.