"God be merciful to us & bless us, & cause His face to shine upon us.
That Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations.
Let the peoples praise You, O God; Let all the peoples praise You.
Oh, let the nations be glad & sing for joy!"
Lord Jesus, you walked the way of the cross as the obedient Son of God, open
our eyes and ears and hearts, and teach us by your Word and Spirit, that we may
not rebel, but may walk in the obedience of disciples who have learned well
from you. Amen.
course New Years is a time of new potential, new resolves and new directions.
It is also a time for healthy reflection. If we go blundering and smashing on
through our days ahead of us without reflecting on the successes and catastrophes
of the previous times, we are bound to repeat oft-committed bunglings. And if
we plunge full-steam head-long into the new year without contemplating the past goodnesses of God in the previous months,
we may find ourselves increasingly insensitive to His present kindnesses.
it Up (1-5). The opening scene
has a back and forth-ness to it. God invites an increasingly compromised Judah
(1.1) to air their complaints against God (v.1). God then turns the arbitration
around against Judah, calling creation to sit in the jury box (v.2). Then He
asks the wounded lover’s question (v.3). Finally He draws them to His history
of repeatedly loving them by rescuing them from what they could not rescue
themselves (v.4-5b). These actions of God were not only to rescue them but to
keep alive in their memory “the righteous acts of the LORD” (v.5c). As a matter
of fact, The New Testament says the same to us, “Now these things happened to
them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the
end of the ages has come” (1 Corinthians 10.11). And what they, and we, are to
recall is God’s persistent fidelity to
Himself and His unrelenting devotion to them/us! Before God gets down to how to repair the
problem, He starts by showing us His deep, tenacious, determined love as it has
worked out in the past.
1st Principle: We too need to reflect on God’s past mercies before we think about present motivations and potential maneuvers. Just as in
the New Testament… Romans 6.8-23!
it Down (6-7). At this point the
scene changes. Micah steps in as “the voice”, he pretends to be the presence of
God’s people in his own person, mouthing their own sentiments and words; “Okay,
how do we make this right? I know! How about more glitz and pizzazz in our
public assembly? What about more liturgical hoopla and ceremonial muscle? Even
down to giving the costliest sacrifices like the big shots do in other
before we misuse this section and draw from it what’s not there, let’s stop.
The erroneous remedy Micah is sarcastically expressing here is not against
God-ordained worship, with all of its ritual, ceremony and liturgy per se, but
(1) mockingly speaking against God-ordained worship abused, battered and
vandalized (child sacrifice). And therefore, (2) acerbically preaching against God-ordained
worship being used like a religious Tylenol or Lortab (to kill the pain, not
fix the problem).
2nd Principle: God wants God-ordained worship, but it
cannot be used against God! He will not be pacified into docility and
compliance by us candy-coating our stubborn sedition with gilded liturgical
it Around (8). After recounting
God’s past mercies, and stripping away false dichotomies and erroneous tonics,
God now moves to the right remedy. You must understand all of this presupposes God’s gracious,
persistent love for his people. Therefore, here is what God seeks from His rescued, worshiping people.
It’s a simple format, though rarely easy. (1) Achieve Justice (mishpat);
(2) Love Merciful kindness (hesed); (3) To walk Humbly (hatzne-a’ lekat) with God. All three
flow together. Individually, and together, they have vertical implications as
well as horizontal. They are synonymous with the 1st and 2nd
great commandments - love God wholeheartedly and love your neighbor as
3rd Principle: Genuine, heart-felt, God-ordained
worship should go hand-in-glove with the God-ordained way! Matthew 23.23 – not
either-or but both/and.
me wrap this up with two simple statements, and then a simple compass reading
(GPS Coordinates) for your trek through 2014:
1.Micah 6.8 is a picture of our Lord Jesus
Christ, of his beautiful, effective obedience for us: “The Lord Jesus, by His
perfect obedience and sacrifice of Himself, which He, through the eternal
Spirit, once offered up unto God, hath fully satisfied the justice of His
Father; and purchased, not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance
in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto Him”
(WCF 8.5). This verse reminds us that Jesus lived out the very goodness, spotlessness, the healthy-holiness we
couldn’t live – and, truth be known, we once didn’t want to live. And then, in
justice, loving kindness and humility, He wrestled our rebellion, sin,
brokenness, shame and guilt down to the cross, held on to it tightly there, and
had it all slaughtered so we could now be reclaimed and restored into deep
friendship with God.
2.This is also a picture of what we will one
day be, and so, even now we long to be.
through the unknown-ness of 2014 – with all of its potential for getting muddled,
messy, sidetracked, disoriented, bewildered – I encourage you to begin by
memorizing Micah 6.8, but also meditating on it, and making it part of your prayers.
Look at Micah 6.8 as your compass coordinates on your trek: “Which way should I
go? What should I do? This I know for certain – do justly, love merciful
kindness, and walk humbly with MY God.”
thank You, O God our Father, for your past mercies! Things we saw unfold before
our eyes, things we found out about after the fact, and even for those we were unaware
of! Now O Lord, we ask you to help us in this coming year. Seeing your rich
goodness toward us, and hearing that you have shown us what is good for us,
help us to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with you our God; and we
ask this because of your Son Jesus, and with the aid of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
When I was 20 years old, I was stationed in a Muslim country for two years. During that time I read the Quran (in an English translation from Oxford), interacted with Muslim acquaintances, and saw Islam lived out in it's communal context. Therefore I was excited when my mother gave me a copy of "Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus". With bazillions of reviews already plastered on the various sites and venues, mine will be short and succinct.
Nabeel Qureshi has woven together a very personal and personable volume written to give "an insider's perspective into a Muslim heart," as well as equip readers "with facts and knowledge, showing the strength of the case for the gospel contrasted with the case for Islam," while chronicling his own inner struggles, sacrifices and doubts when grappling with the Christian faith. The style of writing is autobi…
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So cantillates Jennifer Michelle Greenberg, mother, wife, writer, musician and abuse survivor, in her new 240 page hardback "Not Forsaken: A Story of Life After Abuse". This volume is the tale of her terrors and troubles at the hands of an abusive father, and it is far, far more. It is truly a story of life after abuse, abundant life found only in the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. An easy to read book, it is ideally suited for those who have been traumatized and those who long to help the trampled! "I am not my abuser. I have a choice. I aspire to heal and grow by God's grace" (82).
Just like taking an abnormal psych class in college, a reader will likely see their reflection on many pages in the 200-page hardback "When Narcissism Comes to Church: Healing Your Community from Emotional and Spiritual Abuse". This newly released dossier, written by Chuck DeGroat, professor of pastoral care and Christian spirituality at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, and senior fellow at Newbigin House of Studies in San Francisco, is a velvet covered brick. It is easily readable, and reasonably attainable. DeGroat exposes the varied ways narcissism shows up in a parish, whether in the leadership, families, or congregational culture; and how it can show up in the corporate culture of an ecclesiastical denomination, association or network. It arises from the "lack of capacity for self-awareness and self-evaluation, shunning humility for defensive self-protection" (15). Further, according to the author, a deep, underlying shame is the driving forc…