Dead Dog

And Mephibosheth paid homage and said, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?” ~2 Samuel 9:8~

I am Mephibosheth.

Mephibosheth was worthless – lame in both feet and an heir to the opposing kingdom. By his bloodline, he should have even been hostile toward David! David should have had him killed according to the political practices of that day. However, based on a promise (1 Sam. 20:15), David pursues Mephibosheth and shows unmerited kindness to him. Grace. David goes after him, the “dead dog,” for the simple reason of showing grace. David then does the unthinkable. He not only shows Mephibosheth kindness he doesn’t deserve, but he also gives him a position he doesn’t deserve – a seat at the king’s table (9:11)! Mephibosheth becomes a child of the king!

I have absolutely nothing to offer. In fact, whoever takes me on as a restoration project is getting into more than seems worthwhile. I will forever be dependent upon the one who bails me out of my ‘dead dog’ state. I am lame in both feet and hostile toward the one who pursues me. I need grace that is greater than who I am.

Thankfully, Jesus is MY Redeemer. He sought me out just like David sought Mephibosheth. He accepts me just as I am – a dead dog. When He accepts me, though, He redeems me AND gives me a place at HIS table. From a dead dog to a child of the King! Grace.

“So Mephibosheth ate at the kings table, like one of the king’s sons.”

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-6, ESV)

Read the story of grace here – http://esv.to/2S9


The Better Black Friday

We just survived what has become a retail phenomenon celebrated the Friday after Thanksgiving – Black Friday. Honestly, the only black part of Black Friday I experience is being in the dark waiting on daylight to come while on a deer stand. I can’t imagine going to stand in a line at 3:00 a.m. (or whatever other insane time) with hundreds of other crazies to buy that certain something for that certain someone. I’m not against Black Friday, it just seems crazy to me. However, to each his own, right?

There was a better black Friday that occurred long before the inception of Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, and outlet malls. This black Friday was not filled with crowds of retail consumers vying for the best price on that coveted Christmas gift, but it was filled with a crowd of people watching the sovereign King of the universe die. The better black Friday wasn’t concerned with the material gifts of Christmas, but was centered around the crucifixion of the Gift of Christmas – King Jesus.

Matthew records the events of the better black Friday for us in Matthew 27:  Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”… And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. (vv. 45-46, 50)

The better black Friday was not black from retailers pushing such a volume of merchandise so as to be in the “black.” The better black Friday was a supernatural event surrounding the ultimate Sacrifice enduring the ultimate punishment on our behalf. The better black Friday was when the Savior King of all mankind made the ultimate purchase – the precious redemption of the sons and daughters of God.

Our sin required a price that you and I could never pay. The purchase price for that sin was not discounted in the least bit, but was paid in full at the highest price – the very life of Christ.


Thoughts on Rest

Follow up post on the “Take a Nap” from earlier this week – read the original post here: https://rgwhitejr.wordpress.com/2012/09/03/take-a-nap/

Some thoughts on rest:

  1. Don’t confuse rest with being lazy. Laziness is sin. Rest is divine. (check out “slothfulness” in the Bible)
  2. Rest requires discipline, just as work requires discipline. Don’t be passive in either area.
  3. Our bodies are created to kill it and go hard for a season, and then rest for a season.
  4. Find your rhythm. You know when it is time to unplug.
  5. Rest looks different for different people. Find what works for you.
  6. Burnout isn’t profitable in any area of life. Nobody wins and many are affected.
  7. Don’t use ‘rest’ as an excuse for being a bum. Just don’t.
  8. Refusing to rest has pride at its root. Think about it.

This list could go on, but let’s let these statement suffice for now. Remember, rest is one way God showers us with His grace. Go out and work hard today, but remember to get some rest as well. Consider these words from Scripture:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. ~Jesus, Matthew 11:28-30

-rw


Take a Nap

“Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap.”

I heard that statement from Dr. Randy Millwood in a seminary class on spiritual disciplines several years ago (that’s right – spiritual disciplines). I wish I could say the statement has made a profound impact on my life, but I suspect it hasn’t had near the impact it should have. In the connected world we live in, rest seems to be that moving target we can never seem to hit. The statement from Dr. Millwood presented a challenging paradox to me, as discipline and rest seem to be at odds with one another. The more I tread along this Jesus journey, though, I am coming to understand that statement a little more fully.

Honestly, I don’t remember much else of what we talked about in that class on spiritual disciplines. Maybe God was planting that seed of grace in the life of a works-driven border-line legalistic dude to remind him to stop and rest every once in a while. In my mind, the opposite of work is lazy. I don’t want to be lazy, but I need to rest.

Consider this event in the life of Jesus and the disciples: In Mark 6, Jesus sends the disciples out with authority to minister in some crazy miraculous ways. It’s go time. The disciples go out, and they hit the grind casting out demons, healing the sick, and proclaiming repentance (Mk. 6:7-12). They come back and tell Jesus all they had done, no doubt stoked over everything that had transpired, and likely chomping at the bit to get after it again. Common rationale would say to send them out again and don’t waste any time in doing so – this thing is working! What does Jesus, do, though? He tells them to rest. Hear the soft, gentle words of a caring Master after their exciting report: “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while” (Mk. 6:31). Wow – now that’s powerful.

We encounter seasons of life when we are going non-stop, and God places us there so we can know His grace. We also have times when we need to disconnect and rest – so we can know His grace.

 

Note: some thoughts on rest will be posted in an upcoming post, so stay tuned! Until then, feel free to take a nap…just don’t go too far and get lazy with it.

-rw


Purchased with a Price

There we are chained to the slave block of sin. We are in chains with no hope of freedom. Every self-effort we put forth simply causes the fetters to sink deeper and deeper into our wrists and ankles. Fighting and kicking against the chains, we seek something to free us, even temporarily.

Here’s the problem – the root of our failure – sin – never goes away. We can’t remove our sin, and we can’t atone for our sin no matter how much we clean ourselves up. Sin piles up higher and higher, constantly reminding us of our inadequacy, desperation, and depravity.

From one side of the auction room we hear the sin of anger cry out, “Anger for $10.” Then worry screams from the corner, “Worry will buy him for $20.” Lust whispers in a wicked tone, “I’ll take him for $50.” One after another, sin after sin is pronounced, and the purchase price is upped over and over again. “Envy for $100…hatred for $200…unforgiveness for…greed for…murder in the heart for…theft for…” The amount is beyond comprehension and leaves us in one situation: condemned.

From the back of the room a gentle, recognizable voice simply says with absolute authority, “He’s mine.” A hush overcomes the previously raucous crowd and the auctioneer asks, “What is your price?” The response is, “Jesus. Paid in full. He’s mine.” With this, the chains are released, the payment is made IN FULL, and freedom is found.

Dear Christian – you are purchased with a price, the very blood of Christ. Your sin payment has been paid in full. Nothing remains. Jesus has you covered…now and forever.

…knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ. ~1 Peter 1:18-19


Rebel or (self) Righteous?

In Luke 15, Jesus tells a familiar story about two sons. The younger son in the story goes to his father, asks for all the inheritance due him, ditches his dad and family and goes on “a journey into a far country.” Once there, he blows all his money on “reckless living”  and finds himself slopping pigs just to survive. He realizes his father’s servants have a better life than he does, so he decides he will go back to his father and plead to be a servant. He doesn’t even consider himself to be a son any longer.

When he arrives home, his father is stoked beyond belief about his younger son coming home. He doesn’t even listen to the son’s plea to be a servant. He instead reinstates him as son and throws a party of parties for the return of the son who “was lost, and is found.” We are talking about a major party here – prime rib on the grill, music, dancing, the best drink, celebration – a serious shindig. Wow, what a story!

Enter the older brother. The older brother is out in the field working diligently when his younger brother comes home. He hears the music and dancing, asks one of the servants what is going on, and is told about his brother coming back and about the throw down that his father kicked off. The older brother’s response is less than favorable. Quite honestly, he is ticked off and refuses to go in and join the festivities.

The father comes outside to encourage him to come in and celebrate. The older brother launches out on a tirade against his father, explaining to his dad how he has served him diligently and obeyed him in every way. He is ticked over the rebel brother getting the blowout party, while he has never so much as gotten a goat (his words, not mine). The older brother is the son every father dreams of. One problem – he’s a self righteous punk. Just like me.

Honestly, other than my wretched sinful nature (obvious), I can’t really identify with the rebel brother. Morally, I’ve been a pretty good dude (though not perfect by any stretch). I can, however, identify with the self-righteous older brother. How often have I sounded like the older brother – “I have served you; I have followed your commands…and I don’t even get a goat?”

From the father’s eyes, both sons are the same. He goes outside and welcomes the rebel son in. He goes outside and entreats the self righteous son to come in. One son’s pride and sin is shown in his rebellion. One son’s pride and sin is shown in his self righteousness.

Sometimes we are the rebel. Sometimes we are the (self) righteous. The same grace from the father is needed for the rebel and the (self) righteous. Thankfully, the Father pursues the self righteous just the same as He pursues the rebel.

-rw


Time to Man Up

…So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. http://esv.to/Gn3.6

We have a crisis in many aspects of today’s culture and society – a man crisis. What if many of the problems in our society, churches, and homes are the result of men not being men? As a man writing to (primarily) men, I believe this is so. The average man does fairly well at providing for his family financially, maintaining things around home, disciplining children as necessary, etc. The average man does not, however, fully embrace the privilege and joy of being a Jesus-loving, God-honoring, Kingdom-advancing, Satan-fighting, family-leading man.

In Genesis 3, we are introduced to the story of the fall of man. We (dudes) often sell Eve out for “eating the fruit” first. We say something like, “If that woman wouldn’t have eaten that apple in the first place, we wouldn’t be in such a mess.” There is a statement at the end of verse 6, however, that helps us see that Adam (the dude) didn’t man up – “she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” Adam was there, a silent bystander, as the serpent spoke to Eve and threw down the temptation. He was there as Eve reached out to take the fruit from the tree and take the bite. Adam was there…doing nothing.

We see a little more clearly God’s perspective on who was responsible for the events in the garden when God seeks Adam and Eve out after their failure. Adam and Eve hear God coming (3:8), hide in the garden God Himself created, and God calls out to…the man. Verse 9 says: But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” They are both judged, but God addresses Adam first.

Why is this important? Though Eve violated God’s command (2:17) by her action, Adam violated God’s command by his inaction and subsequent action. He should have taken his man-role in the encounter with the serpent and fought for Eve. He did not, and as a result, they both disobeyed God.

Guys – we do the same when we are silent bystanders in our families and churches. We boast about our manhood at football games, the hunting camp, the job site, etc., but so often we are wimps when it comes to the things of God. It’s time to man up. God created us men to be men – men who love Jesus, honor God, advance the Kingdom, fight Satan, and lead families – all for the glory of King Jesus.

-rw