Not As Man Sees…

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1Sa 16:7 NAS77)

The average male CEO on the Forbes 500 is 3 inches taller than the average male.  Women consistently rate men over 6 feet tall as more attractive than men of less than average height.  Body Mass Index is now a prime consideration in looking for the next guy in line for the corner office.  We are judged by our physical appearance continually.  (WSJ article, USA Today article)

“It’s not fair!”, we exclaim.  They don’t even know the real me . . .

But then again, we tend to be our own worst critics.  We don’t measure up to our own standards.  I’m not good enough.  I always screw up.  I’m not worth it.  I’m too small.  I’m not smart.  I’m weak.  We can find failure in victory.  We can find any number of reasons why we are not allowed to do well.

But, fortunately for me, “God sees not as man sees …”

Not even this man!

I am the one that Jesus loves, and, in Him, I am enough.


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They Came A Tremblin’ . . .

So Samuel did what the LORD said, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the city came trembling to meet him and said, “Do you come in peace?” (1Sa 16:4 NAS77)

Samuel is coming!  Samuel is coming!  Quick, make sure everything looks right.  Does anyone know what he wants?  What do you think we did wrong?  Why is he mad at us?  What did we do?  Or did we not do something?  Oh, no.  This is bad.

The elders came “trembling”.  The assumption was, “we did something bad.”  Why else would the great prophet, the judge of Israel come here, to little Bethlehem?

So much of the time we view God like this.  The Cosmic Killjoy.  The Angry Parent.  Grumpy.

Whatever happened to, “if you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more so your Father in Heaven”?  He feeds the birds, “Are you not worth much more?”  “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights”.

When I was a kid, dad would say, “Come on.  Get in the car.”  You never knew where you were going.  Maybe it was ice cream!  (Actually, that didn’t happen very much.  Only 3 or 4 times in 10 or 12 years.  But … it was possible!)  Maybe it was a cool place like the hardware store.  Or, the magical land of the municipal waste collection center (city dump).

Once it was the dentist.

But even after the “dentist incident”, it never crossed by mind to ask, “where are we going?”  I was going with dad.  That was enough.  (I miss him.)

Time and time again, in all circumstances, God has been there.  I haven’t always been happy in the situation.  I’ve often wished it could be otherwise, but His Peace, Grace, Comfort and Love are absolute.

God’s not sitting in the Lazy Boy saying, “that’s bad!”  He’s standing next to the door, keys in hand, saying, “Come on!  Get in the car.”

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Lent, 2014 (lost post from Ash Wed)

This was supposed to be published the morning of Ash Wednesday.  I don’t know what happened to it, but here it is now:

Last years Lenten journey was deepened by Kris Camealy’s, Holey, Wholly, Holy.  It was a good journey of introspection, healing and freedom.

This year I intend to simplify things a little.

I won’t be adding any extra devotional readings.  I want to spend more time with the bible reading plan our church family is doing together.  I will again observe a strict sabbath day during Lent – a day wholly devoted to God and will be fasting according to my own tradition.  I’ve added an additional media fast as well.  None at all on the sabbath and nothing after 7pm to allow more time for reflection.

I just want to be quiet and spend time with Father.

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Lent in a Whole New Way

We’ve been reading the Bible through together for the past year.  The sermon comes from the week’s passages and in Sunday School we discuss the last sermon.  It has taken a while, but now people are engaging with the scriptures outside of Sunday morning.  People are asking me questions about the texts.  I overhear conversations between others regarding what has been read.  It’s been an incredible area of community growth!

The following is the challenge I issued to the congregation this past Sunday:

The Lenten Journey

Ash Wednesday is nearly upon us.  As we prepare to celebrate the Easter Season, I invite you to join me in two spiritual disciplines; fasting and Sabbath.

Continue to meditate on His Word day and night.  Let it challenge you and really consider its implications in your life.  As scripture reveals to you the nature and character of God, mankind or yourself, ask, “How does this change me?” or “If I really believe this, how does it change my choices?”  Find another person to share these insights with.

Sabbath is a simple resting in Him.  It is not just a physical rest, which our bodies need.  It’s not just an act of obedience or worship.  Sabbath is an expression of devotion and trust.  When you love someone, you spend time with them.  It is difficult to consider anyone devoted to anything if the object of their devotion is not given a substantial amount of time.  Sabbath also expresses trust in His provision, kindness and sufficiency.  I don’t think we can justify a claim that God is all sufficient in our lives, but we have to work through the Sabbath.

Fasting is even more difficult to work into our lives.  Yes, without a doubt, fasting is the giving up of food whenever it is mentioned in the Bible.  I still think it is a good idea, but, since we want to spend more time with God, I am proposing a fast that leads to more time of devotion.  Whatever it is you choose to fast, it should be something that draws you to God.  Oh, as a side note, in rabbinic tradition, you do not fast on the Sabbath.  The Sabbath is a time for joy.  However, if you are fasting media, it might be good to extend that to Sabbath.

Here’s my plan and proposal.  I will keep an honest Sabbath during lent; a day set aside for rest, reflection, meditation and prayer.  I will fast media after 7pm daily and completely on Sunday and the selected Sabbath day.  What about you?

I observed my first “Sabbath” rest yesterday.  As I continued the usual morning and evening meditation, it struck me how I tend to see the areas in my life where I miss the mark.  Usually I can identify in some way with the rebellions, the arrogant, the selfish, the childish, etc.  And, to be honest, these are sometimes true. But, I am not that man anymore.  Through Christ, God has saved me from this body of death (Rom 7:23-24).  I excel at seeing the dark cloud in the midst of the brightest silver lining.  No matter how well I do, I can find the need for improvement.  However, I am no longer condemned.  I have been set free from the law of sin and death (Rom 8:1-2).

Lent has been about my fallenness, my brokenness, my sinfulness, etc. It usually revolves around what I need to change or what I need to “give up”. This year I choose to make it about His love, joy and peace. I choose to make God the central focus.

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