Monday, February 25, 2013

Hammer and Rock

One of my all time favorite comic book super heroes is Thor, the "god of Thunder".   The myths about him are just that...  Myths.   He's the Son of Zeus (the top god).  Brother of Loki (a half god turned to evil).   None of these mythical gods are real, although some Norsemen might disagree.  However, they do ring true in their tales of good versus evil.  A son of a god battling against an evil fallen foe.

Thor uses his hammer, Mjolnir, as a weapon against his enemy.  Mjolnir is capable of  controlling the weather, gives Thor the ability to fly and can cast objects into outer space.  These are a few of the hammer's abilities when wielded by Thor.  He flies into the conflict, swings his hammer, defeats the enemy and saves the day.    All in all, he has a pretty fearsome hammer and a lot of superhero swag.   Plus, for the ladies, he is a super 'hunk'.

In reality, there are all types of hammers besides Mjolnir:  carpenter hammers drive nails and break objects, sledgehammers are large and can apply a lot of force because of their size and weight.   They are used a lot in demolition.  There are rock picks used by geologists to split rocks open.  Who knows what might be inside?   Fossils, gemstones?   A judge uses a gavel to call  his court to order and to enforce the power & authority of the court.  Splitting mauls are used to split wood.  These were also called "Godevil" at one time.  Then there is the stonemason's hammer which is used to chip off edges and small pieces of stone.

Whew!   That's a lot of hammers and it doesn't even begin to list all the different kinds.

Several years ago I drove to Galveston to spend some time on the beach with God.    It was a painful time in my life.  I needed a retreat.

My beach was deserted on this New Year's Eve sunrise and I was alone with the sand and ocean and the wind.  Alone with God.   I walked at the edge of the world and talked with the God who reigns over all.

My beach was wet and the sand was packed.  It was bare of anything except for a few small pebbly seashells and one lonely rock.  I noticed the rock because it was the only one on the entire beach for as far as I could see.  It was a little larger than my fist.  As I picked it up, I noticed that it was black and shaped like a human heart.. not the fluffy cupid valentine hearts but like a real human heart.   

I held it in my hands for a while thinking about my life, my relationship with God, and the emotional condition of my own heart, which had become as black and as hard as that rock.   

What does all this have to do with Thor and his war hammer?    Nothing really.. except this verse in Jeremiah made me think of him and then of that day on the beach when God began to apply His hammer of love to my hardened heart.... my heart that already felt as though it had been cleaved in half by a "Godevil" splitting maul.

Does not my word burn like fire?" says the LORD. "Is it not like a mighty hammer that smashes a rock to pieces?   (Jeremiah 23:29)

No, my Father did not send a super hero like Thor to save the day and destroy the evil in my life.  He sent His  word.   His Word in the flesh.   His Son.  Jesus.

Again,  LISTEN to what the One and only God says.. "my WORD is like a mighty hammer that smashes a rock to pieces".

His Word alone can burn up the world and smash mountains and rocks into slivers of dust.  With a word He creates, and with a word He can destroy.

Mythical Thor and his war hammer pale in comparison to the God of all creation and the  world making... knee buckling... heart rending... terrifying  hammer of  His Word.

With the same word that He speaks creation or destruction,  He speaks love for his children.     That mighty hammer of His  burns like a fire in our spirit and is like a sledgehammer that crushes the stone that our hardened hearts have become.

He will use  any circumstance or any part of His creation to mold us and make us into the person that He intends for us to be.    He will allow pain, heartache, sickness, death, and destruction in our lives in order to bring us to the place where we acknowledge Him and His authority over us.

He will plead with you to turn away from sin and run to Him.   That is the best option.

But..If our hearts are hardened against Him, He will bring His hammer down.   If He was willing to almost completely crush His chosen people of Israel for turning from Him, do you think that He will be any more lenient to His blood bought children?

Maybe you  haven't turned from Him, but your heart has become like stone due to grief, bitterness, pain.   

It doesn't matter.   He does not want His children to be held captive by either emotion or  disobedience.    He is a jealous and vengeful guard over His children and He will do whatever it takes (no matter how difficult and painful for Him and for us).   Would you not do the same for your own child? 

He knows all about tough love.

He rights the wrongs in our lives and does battle against evil.  He doesn't need a super hero to do it for  Him.  

The initial crushing hammer blow is not the end.   Once the rock is cracked and broken, He begins to chisel away at the details, shaping and forming what was once hard, harsh and craggy into something smooth and pliable.  Something that can receive His design and be made useful.   He not so gently sculpts it into beauty.

If you feel like you are  being hammered, maybe God is trying to get your attention.   Talk with Him, turn to Him.  Be glad that He loves you so much that He can not leave you in your broken condition.   Let Him do His work.

It can be a painful process.   The end result is worth every blow.

I am glad that God has a well stocked arsenal.    It lets me know that He loves me and that He will do what it takes to change my heart and spirit and bring me close to Him... even if it takes some hammering away at my heart.   It also lets me know that He is willing and ready to go to battle for me or for any of His children.

He is the only super hero I need.

Post It Quote

Here's a quote from my friend, Ruben Raptor Lopez : "everything takes time, work, effort and TENACIOUS PERSEVERANCE."
Tenacious Perseverance.... I like that. Tenacious means "holding fast".    Perseverance means " steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement. OR 2. Theology.. continuance in a state ...of grace to the end, leading to eternal salvation.
How many of us exhibit tenacious perseverance in life? We set goals and give up on them. We make plans and get distracted or off track and don't accomplish what we plan.
We need to take a look at our selves. (I am preaching to myself here too...obviously) Look at our goals and plans and make a commitment to hold fast to them.
Where our relationship with God is concerned, we most definitely should persevere. It is what we are instructed to do. Hebrews 10:36 tells us "You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised." 
I believe we could say that the disciples tenaciously persevered in their mission and in their relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We should do no less. I don't want to miss out on the promise of God because I took my eyes off the goal and digressed from the plan He has for me.
Remember!!!!! TENACIOUS PERSEVERANCE!!! I should write that one down in great big block letters and post it on my forehead. :-)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What A Predicament!

The  lyrics below are from the soundtrack of  "Les Miserables".    As this classic story goes,   Jean Valjean has been hiding in the open for years.   His life is perfect until a man is found that is mistaken for  Valjean.  This innocent man is hauled to court to be dealt out the justice (or injustice) that was due Valjean.   And although Valjean has avoided the reckoning for years, and this is his opportunity to close the door on his past, he is tormented by the thought of an innocent stranger bearing his own punishment.

"He thinks that man is me. He knew him at a glance!
That stranger he has found This man could be my chance!
Why should I save his hide? Why should I right this wrong?
When I have come so far And struggled for so long?
If I speak, I am condemned. If I stay silent, I am damned!
I am the master of hundreds of workers. They all look to me.
How can I abandon them? How would they live If I am not free?
If I speak, I am condemned. If I stay silent, I am damned!

Who am I?

Can I condemn this man to slavery? Pretend I do not feel his agony?

This innocent who bears my face? Who goes to judgement in my place.

Who am I?

Can I conceal myself for evermore? Pretend I'm not the man I was before?

And must my name until I die

Be no more than an alibi?

Must I lie?

How can I ever face my fellow men? How can I ever face myself again?
My soul belongs to God, I know I made that bargain long ago
He gave me hope when hope was gone
He gave me strength to journey on
Who am I? Who am I?
I am Jean Valjean!

And so Javert, you see it's true

That man bears no more guilt than you!

Who am I?


Valjean's predicament is our own.   Hiding from our own personal death sentence, we struggle with an innocent man's punishment.   Only this innocent man is the Son of God.

Would that I should be so tormented and shamed by the thought of the innocent Jesus taking my place, bearing my death, my punishment, my justice.     Who Am I?   Why would He do such a thing?     It is done.  I can not undo it.   He was tortured, ridiculed, slain.  For me?     Who Am I that He would do such a thing?  

He voluntarily did all this for me.   It wasn't a mistake in identity.   It was purposeful, planned and carried out.   His death gives me freedom.   His death gives me life.    

Who Am I?    He says I am the redeemed, blood bought, child of God. 

Who Am I?  How can I live with what He has done?  Why did He do it?  I'm unworthy of salvation.  My sin is with no justification.

He says  "He who believes on Me will be saved."   He says "Your sin is forgiven.  Go and sin no more."

Who Am I?    I am forgiven, redeemed, adopted into the family of the one and only  gracious omnipotent God that is   "I AM".  I am created for the purpose of relationship with the Lord of all creation.  I am a mouthpiece that shouts the name of JESUS!

He doesn't imprison me and give me a number for identification.   He sets me free and names me with a name known only to Him and to me.  

Who am I?     I am the one that is asking "Are you living in condemnation?   Do you know Jesus or are you hiding from Him?  Who are YOU?"