My Re-Birthday

Yesterday was Pi day. Yet before I knew that magical, irrational number, March 14 was the day on which I was baptized. I guess I was in 5th grade back in 1999 when I made the decision to obey in faith the gospel which I had been taught.

It’s interesting to me that I could quite calmly make the biggest decision of my life as an 11 year old. But now that I have been a Christian longer than not, I look back and realize that in the last 12 years, I have sinned WAY more than in the first 11.

That brings me to this song. I have been a big Relient K fan ever since their first album. They put out a single a year or two ago that I just recently started paying attention to. It’s called “Forget and Not Slow Down.” The chorus is a great reminder of the fact that on our journey to follow God, there will be many times that we fall down, turn aside, or just lose track of where we are.

But God will always be there to “resurrect the saint within the wretch.”

“But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son continually cleanses us of all sin.” 1 John 1:7

And since I’m on the topic of baptism, here’s “Rebirthing” by Skillet. I personally think we should blast this song over the PA system whenever someone is baptized.

Imago Dei, part 2

There is so much more to this thing about “being made in God’s image” than I really want to take time to discuss. All I want to do is share some thoughts from a few different angles.

Found this picture. Had to add it. ūüėÄ

Last time we looked at the job that God intends for his image bearers to carry out – tending to, caring for, and ruling over the rest of creation. This is the first and foremost responsibility given to human beings. That word “responsibility” will come into play several more times.

So here are some more thoughts on the Imago Dei. I’ll try and keep it brief.

1. All humans are created in God’s image. That’s right. All¬†humans bear His image – male and female; red, yellow, black, and white; rich and poor; slave and free; alcoholics, homosexuals, and devout Christians. We have a tendency to place people into various categories when we encounter those different from ourselves. We see a middle-aged, black female who is a single mother living on welfare. Judgments are made, and stereotypes are created.

But when we let the truth of Imago Dei really sink in and take root in our own lives, we will begin to see everyone around us as fellow image-bearers. Prejudice and discrimination have no chance to manifest themselves. Hatred, bigotry, and oppression cease completely. Everyone is made in the image of the same Creator, and that Creator loves each one of us.

2. The image has been tainted. Each one of us has vandalized the very image of the One who created us. Although we have been given this great privilege, we have thrown it back in His face. We think things like, We never asked for this! We never wanted to live up to the standard which God has set for us! It’s not fair. It’s too much responsibility. I just want to live my life the way that seems best to me.

And we just go our own way, minding our own business, not giving a second thought to the honor bestowed upon us.

This type of thinking then leads to a radically¬†individualistic¬†mindset. The product of which is the type of justification for sin that we see all around us. Lady Gaga even puts the justification to song and dance with her new hit “Born This Way.” If we reject the image of God for our own image, then we have no responsibility other than to ourselves. It comes quite naturally, then, that we were hardwired from birth to make certain decisions with our lives: be it alcoholism, drug addiction, habitual lying, homosexuality, or any number of lifestyles which are considered sinful in Scripture.

3. The image can be restored. God has taken it upon himself to provide a way for his tainted image to be made clear again. He did this by coming down to earth as a man, living from birth to death as one of his own imagers. He showed us what it meant to be human, to be the image of God in this world – and we killed him for it.

Yet, through his resurrection from the dead, we, too, can have true life once again. By his blood, we are made clean. By his wounds, we are healed. By his sacrifice, humanity can be set right again, and we can all get back to bearing proudly the image of the One who made us and then re-made us.

Salt, part 1

I’ve taken a¬†hiatus¬†from writing as I have been focusing on being a dad. It’s been about 5 months, and now I feel like putting my thoughts out there in the blogoshpere once again. So here we go…
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Elijah’s story runs throughout the 2nd half of 1 Kings. He is one of the first major prophets since the time of Samuel. He is even thought of as the prophet in the line of Moses that was promised back in Deuteronomy. But I don’t want to talk about Elijah right now. I want to talk about Elijah’s protege, apprentice, and successor – Elisha.

Elisha’s name literally means “God saves”. And just as Elijah was a type of Moses, so Elisha is a type of Joshua (whose name means “YHWH saves”). Elijah’s time on the earth has come to an end by 2 Kings 2, and he takes Elisha on a journey outside the land of Israel across the Jordan which is parted before them so they may walk across on dry ground. Elijah is then taken up into heaven in a fire tornado, leaving Elisha all alone to carry out the work of God.

Elisha, just like Joshua before him, crosses the Jordan on dry ground as he enters the land. The first city he comes to is Jericho, which was conquered and cursed by Joshua. If anyone were to rebuild the walls of Jericho, he would bring a curse upon himself and the land. But as we all know, it was impossible for the Israelites to leave well enough alone, so they rebuilt the city and its walls several centuries later. And, surprise!, the ground and the water were cursed because of their disobedience.

So along comes Elisha, God’s newly established frontman. The people know that God is with him, so they come out to him begging for his help. They say the water is cursed, and it’s causing death and miscarriages and crop failure. In today’s world, we would be digging up pipes, running all kinds of tests, shipping in bottled water, and doing everything within our power to fix whatever was making our water bad. But Elisha didn’t do that.

And it wasn’t lead, or pesticide, or any other toxic waste. It was the curse they brought on themselves by disobeying God’s commands. Elisha could have simply rubbed it in their faces that they deserved what they got. They were under God’s curse. He could have left it at that and moved on. But Elisha didn’t do that either.

He got a bowl, placed some salt in that bowl, and threw the salt into the water. To this day, the text tells us, the water was cleansed, and it no longer caused death or miscarriage or famine.

Elisha reversed the curse. Not bad for an inaugural act as head prophet.