I was had a couple of conversations with a friend the other day. Let’s call him Bryan since that’s his name.
One of the conversations was about a time that he was out and about with his then three year old daughter. It didn’t go as smooth as he wanted. His daughter pitched a fit on him. She wouldn’t stop, so he left the store he was in after about fifteen minutes. When he got home, he severely punished her. This punishment carried so much weight that a few years later she warned her little sister of what might happen to her one day.
Another conversation Bryan and I had was one that we have quite often. We discussed God and His nature.
We talked about how while we agree that God is love, this isn’t the total picture that we get from the Bible. He is also a God of judgment and wrath and mercy and grace. All of the characteristics go into who God is.
The problem that Bryan and I see is that too many of us only focus on the love part of God. Too many of us expect God to be this warm, fuzzy feeling God who indulges our every whim and desire.
In other words, we made Him into the God of the rocking chair.
Intentionally or not, many of us picture God sitting in a rocking chair on His front porch in heaven. He sits there rocking, smiling and nodding at what we do much like we expect a grandparent to do.
Grandparents rarely find fault in anything their grandchildren do. They feed their grandchildren things their parents wouldn’t. They let them stay up later. Then they leave the parents to deal with any consequences.
I read a blog post the other day where a man ripped a well known preacher for his picture of God. After reading that post, I wondered is this guy had really read the Bible. I wasn’t sure where he was getting his view, his picture of God.
My feeling was that he did what all of us have done in our lives. He made God into his own image, instead of taking the image God gives us.
God is not a rocking chair, grandparent type of God. He is a God of love, mercy, and grace, as well as a God of judgment and wrath.
Let’s realize that God is not an indulgent God who simply wants to give us our every desire. He wants to be our greatest desire and give to us based on that.
Have you ever realized that you have created God in your own image? Have you ever looked at God as a celestial grandparent?
I sat around today and wondered a few things yesterday.
I wondered about us joining churches when we cannot join the Church.
I wondered about how to give our money in ways that help widows and orphans and those that need justice and mercy.
I wondered about having fellowship instead of fellowships.
I wondered about us praying instead having a prayer meeting.
I wondered about us devoting ourselves to the apostle’s teachings more than other teachings.
I wondered about us breaking bread together instead of just breaking bread.
I was just wondering…..
Most of us have heard the term holiness in our lives. Holiness is one of the big words we use in church to describe God. It is also the term used to describe the Church and the life we are called to live.
However, I most want to focus on God’s holiness. What prompts this is the idea that we often separate God’s holiness from the other aspects we attribute to Him.
For example, God’s love and His holiness. We act as though these are two separate things. As though His love is void and separate from His holiness. Surely this can’t be. Holiness simply means “set apart.” So what if we looked at the attributes of God through His holiness.
God’s love is holy, because it is set apart. It is different that the love of the world or even the love of you and me. It is perfect. We are called to this type of love. A love that is holy and separate from the world.
What about His mercy? His mercy is holy. It is different from the mercy of the world.
His justice? It is holy. It is set apart from the justice of the world.
My point is that we while we may try, in discussing a particular attribute used to describe God, separate them, in reality we cannot divorce one of God’s attributes from another. God’s holiness is connected to His love is connected to His mercy is connected to His justice and so on and so on.
Truth be told, it’s the same with us. We don’t love enough or have enough mercy or show justice? Perhaps we aren’t set apart the way we should be.
How is your (or my) holiness going these days?
Evidently, according to all the kids these days, it’s not considered complimentary to be referred to as a tool.
According to Urban Dictionary, a person called a tool is “someone who lack the mental capacity to know they are being used.” Basically, they are being manipulated for someone else’s purpose.
I certainly don’t want to be anyone’s tool.
God is often called the potter. We are the clay. What is He molding us into? What is He making us into?
A tool for His glory?
In Romans, Paul says that some are who are vessels of mercy and vessels of wrath.
In other words, we are tools.
Tools for His glory.
The difference is that we know that we are a tool for Him.
How do you feel about being a tool for the Lord?
The stone was rolled away.
Death has no more victory.
Death has no more sting.
Do you like Westerns? I do. I’ve read more Louis L’Amour books than I can remember. I love Gunsmoke and almost any Western show that I can find from back in their heyday. I love John Wayne movies. I especially love Clint Eastwood’s Western work, from Rawhide to Unforgiven. My favorite movie of all-time is Eastwood’s The Outlaw Josey Wales.
Another of my favorites is Hang’Em High. In it, Eastwood’s character is wrongly hanged. He does not die, but quickly becomes a marshal who captures outlaws to hang. The days when the hangings occur take on a carnival atmosphere. Justice is delivered swiftly and without mercy. Although he wants to stop once he captures the men that hanged him, Eastwood continues working for the hanging judge.
Somehow a paradox has happened. While I still love this movie, I’m not sure how I feel about the death penalty. Where I used to advocate public executions that could possibly take on the characteristics of the hangings in the movie, I do not relish the thought of anyone dying. Where I used to believe in an eye for an eye, I’m not sure what I believe anymore in regards to capital punishment. I’m not anti-death penalty, but neither am I pro-death penalty.
Much of this has come to a head over the last couple of years. I suppose that I feel an empathy toward those who commit acts that could result in the death penalty. You see, I too once was sentenced to the death penalty. I had fallen short of the glory of God and faced the wages of sin. Yet, God had mercy on me. He extended grace to me through His Son. My sin was paid for by Christ’s blood. Jesus defeated Death for me, allowing me to experience life, eternal and abundant.
So, while I won’t usually rail against the death penalty, I certainly have come to a place where I don’t demand it either. I wish those who face such a penalty here on earth enough time to have the opportunity to be presented the Gospel, receive grace and not face that same penalty after death.
How about you? Have your thoughts and ideas about the death penalty changed during your life?
I remember when I first encountered the word ronin. It was around the time of my junior year of high school. I was a comic book collector, which is the nice way of saying that I was a comic book geek or nerd. I still love comic books and superheroes, by the way.
Frank Miller wrote and drew a comic book called Ronin. Miller became famous because of his work on Daredevil, Wolverine and The Dark Knight. You might know of some of his other work like Sin City and 300. I can’t tell you a whole lot about Ronin now. It was a basically about a futuristic samurai.
For some reason I was thinking about all of this the other day. The word ronin popped into my head and I couldn’t get rid of it. So I did a little bit of digging into it. A ronin was a samurai who was masterless. He may have been masterless because his lord had died. Or he may have been masterless because of some shame he had caused his lord and was dismissed. Either way, he was not bound any longer to the master that he had originally worked for. So instead of being a samurai, he now became a ronin. Basically, he would usually be a “hired gun”. A body-guard. An assassin. Whatever someone would pay him for, he would do.
The thing about being a samurai was that once the samurai no longer had your master, he was supposed to die. He was supposed to commit harakiri (we often call it hari kari) or ritual suicide. The ronin did not. However, he did die to the life he had, didn’t he? He was no longer in the good graces of his master and had to work a harder life than was intended.
Also, did the ronin really not have a master? I believe he did. He had many masters. His master was whoever was willing to pay him a wage so that he could satisfy his wants and desires.
All We Like A Ronin
As I read about the ronin, I wondered if we aren’t all ronin. Were Adam and Eve the first ronin? They brought shame upon their Master. Their Master dismissed them. Guess what? He told them they would die. No, they didn’t die physically. That came later. But they did die spiritually. Their lives became harder. They had to work in a way that God did not originally prepare them for.
We are all like ronin, aren’t we? Gone astray. Thankfully we have a Master who comes looking for his lost ronin. He extends grace and mercy to us. He welcomes us back into His house and His family.
Do you remember what life was like without the Master in your life?