Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Dead Come to Life

“Only with You, the dead come to life.” –Jonathan Thulin

Zombies are taking over! They’re everywhere these days. Commercials, movies, video games. The word zombie, which is often translated as “walking dead,” supposedly comes from voodoo and indicates a corpse that has been brought back to life by an evil supernatural power. It’s the opposite of the Old Testament story in which God calls Ezekiel to prophesy to a valley of dry bones. (Ezekiel 37: 1-14)

After the Spirit leads Ezekiel to the valley, the Lord asks him: “Son of Man, can these bones live?” In great faith, Ezekiel replies in acknowledgement of God’s unparalleled authority and unlimited power: “Sovereign Lord, You alone know.”  Ezekiel obeys God and as he speaks to the skeletons, he watches muscle and skin cover the bones. Then breath fills them and they come to life. These skeletons represent the nation of Israel but Paul tells us we were all once part of the “living dead.”

“But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4-5) By this definition, there are still millions of walking dead among us. But thankfully, there’s a good God just waiting to bring them back to life.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

From East to West

Several weeks ago as I traveled to work, a giant luminous full moon shone ahead of me in the western sky. Behind me I glimpsed the eastern sky which glowed with incandescent rose and heather-colored clouds as a pale sun peeked up from the horizon. I pondered how I was bookended by two points of the compass, the same two points the psalmist uses in Psalm 103:12: “as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

In theory, east and west will always be separate; you cannot travel so far west that you are traveling east or vice-versa. So the psalmist is explaining that God in His mercy has taken our sins and their penalties so far away from us that we can never run into them again. In verse 11, the psalmist tells us it is God’s inexhaustible love which motivates this action: “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him.”

When we revere God, truly worship Him, and accept His atoning sacrifice, He rewards us with a love so full of mercy, grace, and compassion that we can hardly fathom it. The next time you feel the weight of sins you’ve already confessed and repented of, remember these verses from the Psalms as well as the words of the prophet Isaiah: “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Isaiah 43:25)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Time for a Time Out

Lately, I’ve been a little cranky and last Sunday I discovered the reason. I haven’t been “keeping the Sabbath.” While the phrase sounds antiquated and may bring up images of sour-faced, black-clad Puritans, the concept is both timeless and timely. Here’s how I got off track: I simply neglected to set aside Sunday as a day of rest.  I became overwhelmed with too many projects and a seeming lack of time and found myself working on Sundays.

Now I am not a Pharisee who refuses to cook or clean on Sunday though I do try to reserve the other days of the week for the heaviest chores as well as errands. But I try to frame Sunday as a day only for church, family and friends. So including work on my Sabbath roster led to a shift in priorities for the day.

After facing the facts, I have decided I need to rearrange my schedule and reclaim my Sabbath. Like an out-of-sorts toddler, I have placed myself in time-out. While many folks use Sunday as just another day of the week, God set it aside as a special time for us to regenerate and to worship. My new game plan is to try to take time out each Sunday to redeem my day of rest and all the benefits it provides.

“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
    and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
    and the Lord’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
    and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
then you will find your joy in the Lord…”  (Isaiah 58:13-14)