Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Reflections on Abraham Part Five: Good Coaching

Reflections on Abraham
Part Five: Good Coaching
Genesis 22.1 - .19

“Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” - The LORD
(Genesis 22.2)

One of the characteristic of a good coach is that he or she will push until you hit your limit and then push you farther. A good coach wants you to know how fast you can run. How high you can jump. How far you can throw. How hard you can get hit. The good coach does this so you will be better, stronger and victorious when it is game time. The LORD is not just a good coach, He is the best coach.

The LORD knows our limits before we do. He knows all our strengths and weakness even when we don’t. So, like all good coaches He pushes us to those outer limits but instead of athletic ability, He is pushing our faith to its extreme.

Look at Abraham in Genesis 22. The LORD has made a promise and covenant with Abraham that will be fulfilled through Isaac. Now, the LORD has asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham is being asked to kill the son of the promise. Abraham risks it all and steps out in faith. He is willing to sacrifice Isaac and is only stopped at the last moment by the LORD.

The LORD pushed Abraham’s faith to the edge. If you have put your faith in the LORD you know as well as I do that it will be challenged. Challenged by the LORD with the hard call we have as followers of Jesus. Our faith is challenged by the corrupted culture we live in. But, we must never forget that the Holy Spirit is in us to give us the power, courage and strength we need to overcome these challenges.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Reflections on Abraham Part Four: Will You Keep the Way of the LORD?

Reflections on Abraham
Part Four: Will You Keep the Way of the LORD?
Genesis 18.16 - 19.29 & Romans 7.7 - .25

“Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation and all the nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him. so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised.” - The LORD (Genesis 18.16 - .19)

Sodom and Gamorrah are two extremely vile places, so bad that the LORD has decided to destroy these cities. The inhabitant have been wicked and unjust. They have not lived in the way of the LORD and the LORD can not even find 10 righteous people. The LORD after thinking to himself decides to tell Abraham about the impending destruction of Sodom and Gamorrah. Why? In order to give Abraham and his decedents an object lesson. We needed to know that if we do not keep the way of the LORD by living a right and just life we are in danger!

I don’t mean that the LORD is going to send fire and brimstone on us here and now because of our mistakes. What I mean is that if we live an unrighteous, unjust sinful life we will have to deal with the very real consequence here and now. If we continue in walking away from the way of the LORD we will have to deal with the eternal consequences too.

So what can we do? How can we live a perfect righteous and just life? We can’t! We know from our own experience that we will always fall short. It is only thru the love, grace and forgiveness we find in the Lord Jesus Christ that we can over come the temporary and eternal consequences of our sin.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Reflections on Abraham Part Three: Children and Volcanos

Reflections on Abraham
Part Three: Children and Volcanos
Genesis 16.1 - .16

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Abram agreed to what Sarai said. (Genesis 16.1 & .2)

In our culture we love to be in control and we love to have plans. Huge amounts of money is spent on calendars, personal organizers and software to get our plans and schedule under our control. Recently the entire European continent learned that no matter what their plans, calendars or personal organizers tell them they are not in control. The Eyjafjallajokul Volcano, whose name is nearly impossible to pronounce, shut down most of Europe’s airspace causing thousands if not millions of people to put their plans travel by air on hold. They couldn’t do what they planned to do. They learned that they were not in control and nothing they did would allow them to be in control of the volcano!

When we try to control everything and go our own way rather than waiting patiently for the LORD it causes trouble. Look at Sarai and Abram’s attempt to start a family. Abram knows the LORD has promised him a child but Sarai is either impatient or thinks she has a better plan. So she offer her maidservant, Hagar, as a surrogate and will start a family through her. She wants to be in control of this situation instead of waiting for the LORD. This causes trouble. Sarai becomes jealous of Hagar. Hagar is sent away. Abram is caught in the middle. The family Sarai wanted to start falls apart instead!

When we try to take control it causes trouble. When we try to make plans but don’t surrender them to the LORD we sin. (James 4.13 - .17) Instead we need to wait patiently for the LORD and surrender our plans to His will.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

We Do It Our Way! (The Tower of Babel): Reflections on Genesis 1 - 11

We Do It Our Way! (The Tower of Babel)
Reflections on Genesis 1 - 11

The truth of the Tower of Babel (Gemesis 11.1 - .9) is not that it just happened once but that it continues to happen. In the first 11 chapters of the Book of Genesis we are continually faced with stories of humanity trying to do it our own way and failing. Adam and Eve listen to the serpent and try to be like god on their own terms. Cain decides he can do things himself rather than listen to the LORD’s warnings. Humanity as a whole turns away from the LORD and is destroyed in a flood with only one family saved. The descendants of this family gather in a plain in Shinar to settle and once again try to do things their way.

The LORD has created an entire world for us to inhabit but we decide to stay together and build a city. We had been called to fill the Earth and inhabit every corner but instead we decided go our own way and build one city. To build this city and tower we make our own bricks, instead of the rocks the LORD created. The purpose of this city and the tower was to make a name for ourselves. It is all about our selfish pride as we once again try to be like god. Once again we are choosing something that seems good but is actually evil.

When the LORD comes down to inspect the tower and its city he is horrified. Once again we are disobedient. Once again the LORD has to help us come back around to where we should be by confusing our language and scattering us. Because we are created in the image of God we are capable or more evil and destruction than other parts of creation.

Today this story still happens when we choose to try to live on our own terms we fail. We have been called to live a greater life through Jesus Christ than any life we could imagine or find without him. The choice is ours.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

God of the Covenant: Reflections on Genesis 1 - 11

God of the Covenant
Reflection on Genesis 1 - 11

“I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” - The LORD to Noah and his sons (Genesis 9.8 - .11).

This is the first of many covenants the LORD makes between Himself and His creations. These covenants are agreements between the more powerful, CREATOR God and with the less powerful, creation. They establish a relationship between Himself and us. Like all of His covenants the LORD is the initiator. It is the LORD who makes the covenant with Noah, Abraham and the People of Israel. Today it is the LORD who through the Son, Jesus Christ, initiates and made a New Covenant with us today.

I believe the LORD creates these covenants because of His love for us and all of His creation. In spite of the fact that we have chosen to sin the LORD still wants to have a relationship with us. In order for us to be in relationship we need a covenant. An agreement that establishes our relationship. Under the “Old Covenant” the LORD was distant and frightening. Now thanks to the LORD Jesus Christ we live under a New Covenant. Under this New Covenant based on sacrifice, grace and surrender the LORD is close. No longer do we need to fearfully wait at the bottom of the Mountain of the LORD (Exodus 19.23) now we can confidently approach the Throne (Hebrews 4.16).

There is a New Covenant available for you. It is your choice to surrender to the LORD and live in His grace or reject Him and continue to live in your sin.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Work: Reflections on Genesis 1 - 11

Reflections on Genesis 1 - 11

Reflection - Work

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. - Genesis 2.15

It is clear from this verse that we had a job in the garden of Eden. The LORD creates everything and in the midst of all creation a garden is created. We are left wit the task of tilling and keeping it. I can tell you that gardens don’t maintain themselves. It takes work on the part of the gardener. The gardener needs to prune, pull weeds, fertilize, mulch, plant seeds, transplant seedlings and the list goes on. This hard work keeps a garden from being over grown and becoming wild. This was our task in the garden of Eden to be gardeners. As part of Adam’s “dominion” over creation was the task of caring for where he lived. If he didn’t till and keep the garden of Eden it would eventually become over grown, wild and not the place the LORD had made for him to live and work in.

Two important concepts come out of this.

1. Work is not a curse but a blessing. Gardening can be enjoyable but it is hard work. The work the LORD gives us to do is a blessing for us. The New Testament makes it clear that we have work to do. Our work consists of continuing Jesus’ ministry on the Earth. We are given gifts from Holy Spirit that allow us to do the work we have been called to do.

2. We are still stewards of this world. For the foreseeable future this is the only planet we have to live on. Since this is the world the LORD put us on to live on we need to take care of it. Just as Adam and Eve had the job to caring for the garden of Eden we have the task of caring for the Earth.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Reflections on Abraham Part Two: Blessing or Not

Reflections on Abraham
Part Two: Blessing or Not
Genesis 12.10 - .20

The LORD inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai. So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you don to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!” (Genesis 12.17 - .19)

Shortly after calling upon the LORD at Bethel a famine strikes the land Abraham is living in. In order to find relief from the famine Abraham decides to take his family to Egypt. Abraham is afraid the Egyptians will see his wife, want her, kill him and taker her for their own. In order to save his life he tells the Egyptians that Sarah is his sister. Pharaoh sees Sarah wants her, makes a deal of some kind with Abraham and takes her. This causes trouble. Pharaoh's household gets diseases and Abraham has to return to the famine stricken land.

Earlier the LORD made a promise to bless and protect Abraham. As a result of the blessing and protection of the LORD all the peoples of the earth would be blessed through Abraham. Abraham is to be a blessing not a curse to the peoples of the earth. Unfortunately in his dealings with the Egyptians he is a curse! The entire household of Pharaoh is cursed with serious diseases because of Abraham’s lie about Sarah. His choice does not lead to a blessing but a curse.

What about us? We can be a blessing to those around us or we can be a curse. We can allow the blessings and love the LORD gives us pass through us onto others. Or we can be like Abraham in this case and stop the blessings from passing on. The choice is yours.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Reflections on Abraham Part One: The Call

Reflections on Abraham
Part One: The Call
Genesis 12.1 - .9

“Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.
I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you;
I will make your name great and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” - Genesis 12.1 - .9

After the LORD appeared to Abram with this promise and command Abram obediently leaves. He has a choice. He can stay home where everything is comfortable and familiar. He can continue to live in his father’s household and protection. He can continue to live among his own people with the people who know him. He can continue to live in his own country where the landmarks are familiar.

Instead he leaves. He leaves it all behind to go into the unknown. That was all he was asked to do. In return for a wonderful promise from the Creator God, Abram is simply to be obedient. The LORD promises to bless him. When the LORD blesses someone that person finds himself being cared for, protected and favored by the LORD. There are promises of a new home, blessing and protection.

There is more going on here than meets the eye. Once again the Creator God takes the first steps into a relationship with His creation. We, humanity, have no idea how to have a relationship with the Creator. Look at all the goofy religion in our world. People desperately trying to get in touch with the Creator. Trying to do it on their own terms and with their own ideas.
The good news is that the Creator God makes the first step and shows us how to have a relationship with Him! We are not left on our own. He wants to be in relationships with us because we are loved more deeply than we can imagine by Him.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow and Wind Storm

As I was shoveling this evening (February 10th 2010) the wind was amazing!

Blizzard 2010 Video

Here is a short clip of the conditions at the Byrd House the morning of February 10th 2010. This clip doesn't do the wind and snow justice, it is pretty crazy out there.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

View from the Front Porch Day #2

Here is an updated front porch view. Note the amount of snow on the park bench on the bottom right hand side as compared to yesterday's photo.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

#2 Cain and Able: Reflections on Genesis 1 - 11

Reflections on Genesis 1 - 11
Cain and Able

“Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” - LORD God (Genesis 4.6 & .7)

Cain and Able are Adam and Eve’s first two boys. Cain works out in the fields. Able works with livestock. One day both of them bring an offering to the LORD. Cain just brings some of the fruit of the soil. Able brings the fatty portions of the first born. The LORD accepts Able’s offering because it is the choicest parts being sacrificed. While Cain’s offering is just normal everyday food. Cain is upset by this and the LORD warns him that sin desires to have him but he must master it. What a warning!

Now if the LORD spoke directly to me with a warning like that I think I would listen to him. If the LORD spoke directly to me every time my own evil desires were tempting I think I would listen. I think I would know better after some help like that.

But to often like Cain we ignore the warnings and walk through temptation and into sin. We knew better but went ahead. We knew the Holy Spirit was pulling us away but we did not control ourselves. We allowed sin to master us.

Self-control is not easy but I believe it is a defining characteristic of a follower of Jesus Christ. Self-control is about being self-aware and thinking ahead. When we master ourselves through the power of the Holy Spirit then the LORD is our master not sin.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

#1 Don't Follow god but Follow God

Don’t Follow god but Follow God
First in a Series of Reflections on Genesis 1 - 11

“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” - Narrator (Genesis 1.27)

“You will not surely die, for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” - The Serpent (Genesis 2.4 &.5)

The truth of the first 11 chapters of Genesis is not just that they happened that they still happen. Each and everyday the same temptations, righteousness, sin and victory occur. We are given a choice. We can either follow god or the LORD GOD.
The Serpent tempts Adam and Eve in the garden with the idea that they can be like god knowing good and evil. They see this temptations as something they desire. The desire to be like god gives birth to sin. The sin to pridefully and selfishly be like god leads to death. This is a death of their, and our, relationship with the LORD GOD. Death of their life in the Garden. Death of the joy they were to experience. Death of who they were created to be. Eventually, their own deaths as they were cut off from the Tree of Life.
What they forgot was they were already like God. When the LORD GOD creates us He created us in His image and (wait for it) LIKENESS. We were already like God but we believed the Serpent’s lie! The lie that we can be like the god of our creation not the God of creation
We were created by the LORD GOD to be in His image and likeness. We will only find who we are truly created to be when we stop following god and follow GOD.