Friday, March 25, 2011

Clean Hands

At the end of David’s reign as King he gathers the people together to commission his son Solomon to take his place as King of Israel. He also charges Solomon to build a dwelling place for the Lord. David had spent years gathering together gold, bronze, and cedar in preparation of the building of the Temple, and now the time has come. He asks the people if they too will give to make a house for God. And they do. In abundance.

As David sees the generosity of the people he bows his head and prays a beautiful prayer of thanks to God. And there, in the midst of his prayer is one line that won’t leave my mind.

“I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity.” 1 Chron. 29:9-10

Lately I’ve noticed a trend. In America. In the church. We are obsessed with controlling behavior. We live and die by a list of rules. Behavior modification controls our every waking moments. As followers of Christ we are bombarded with lists of dos and don’ts.

Don’t get me wrong, rules can be good. God has a list of rules Himself, and I’m pretty sure He wants us to follow them.

But it’s not ultimately about following rules. I know plenty of people who’ve never committed murder, adultery, or stolen anything. Yet that doesn’t mean they have integrity. That doesn’t mean their heart is pure.

In Psalm 24 David asks the question “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place?” Is it those who “follow the rules”? No, it is those with “clean hands and a pure heart.” It is those who walk in integrity.

Proverbs 23:7 says “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”

It is our heart, not our hands that is our problem. If we want integrity, if we want clean hands, then we must first have a pure heart.

So, why do we spend so much time trying to control behavior if the problem lies in our hearts? Putting a password on our computer will not control our lustful desires. Pouring out the alcohol will not rid us of our longing to self-medicate. And biting our tongue will not rid our hearts of selfishness and pride.

The problem lies in the heart. So what do we do? How do we cultivate a pure heart? Psalm 24 continues “Such is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek your face O God of Jacob”

Pure hearts are birthed in those who seek Him. Who are persistent in getting ahold of Him. Who, like Jacob will wrestle through the darkest of nights and hold on to God at the expense of all else.

David was intimately acquainted with God. He knew that God tested the hearts of man. He also knew what God hoped to find, integrity.

Thousands of years ago David hoped that through his integrity and through the integrity of his son they might build a Temple that God would be pleased to inhabit. And now, here, today, God is looking for another Temple He can dwell in. The temple of our hearts.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

So long, farewell...

I tend to be a bit slow on the uptake most of the time. Thankfully God is over-the-top patient with me and keeps sending the same message over and over and over until I get it.

Well, I got it. And me getting it means saying goodbye to you, my friend. Oh don't worry it's not forever, and it's not really goodbye even. Just goodbye in our electronic form of communicating.

For several years now (I told you I was slow) I've had the inkling of a thought of going without books, TV, facebook, etc. for a season and limiting all input from the Bible ONLY. I've always been too stubborn to actually do it. And honestly the thought makes me break out in hives and sweat a bit.

But today it was clear. I'm stressed, overwhelmed with lingering illness in our home, work stuff, deadlines... and on and on. I'm desperate for peace. Yet I fill my life with noise. Could it be possible to hit mute? To silence all the other voices and spend a season listening to Him and Him only? I plan to try.

Today marks the beginning of Lent. Forty days of anticipating Resurrection morning. Forty days of reflection on the Cross and the empty Tomb. Can I prepare my heart in quiet?

To be honest, I don't know that I can do this. I'm an information junkie!!! I'm physically attached to my iPhone. My DVR is one of my closest friends. I have lots of friends in ministry and love listening to their podcasts. For Pete's sake, I work in radio! But it's time. It's time to stop the madness and purposefully focus my heart on Him.

A wise friend wrote an amazing post yesterday that was the proverbially straw that broke this camel's back. If you have a few minutes it would be worth your time to read.

And now... I bid you adieu... Until Easter morn.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Rose

My left hand holds a tiny crimson bud. Tightly closed, petals wrapped in and on each other. Glorious scarlet bursting forth into life. Sweet & fragrant in my hand.

“Innocent as a rose” The metaphor repeats through the ages of time.

Innocent and Pure.

But what of innocence stolen? What of beauty marred? Of purity defiled? What, when the thorn pierces flesh and causes crimson blood to spill? What then?

The rose crushed and bruised. Broken by the grasp of evil. Plucked too soon. No longer destined to open, spread petals, releasing fragrance and beauty and pollen and life. A rose plucked, drying, shriveling, shrinking in slow death.

Can the rose be restored? Can she be reattached, unbruised?

“I am the vine, and you are the branches” He whispers to my soul. But what of branches severed? What of innocence cut off, cast aside, trampled underfoot?

Who would want the dying plucked rose?

“And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in

for God is able to graft them in again.” Romans 11:25

There is One. The Gardner, skilled at making things grow. He wants the severed rose. Longs for her even. He wants her not for the ash heap, but for life and beauty. He wants to cut the vine, mar the healthy and slip in the broken. Bind it up with tape and water. He cuts open the vine and binds life to death, transfusing Himself into that which was cast off.

And she heals.

And she grows.

And she opens up.

Releases her fragrance, pollenates her world.

He cuts the vine… He cuts the vine…

Father, graft me into You. I don’t want to be cut off, tightly closed in on myself. I want to blossom. Open up. Shine. I have persisted in unbelief. Forgive my foolish, faithless heart that has believed that You can’t heal the severed rose. Place me in the vine! Thank You for allowing Yourself to be broken so that I can be healed.