Truthful Tuesday: Exposed in His Presence

Photo Credits: julieamarxhausen.wordpress.com

Photo Credits: julieamarxhausen.wordpress.com

Leviticus 10: 1-3

Then Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, each took his fire pan and put fire in it, set incense in it, and presented strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them to do. 2 So fire went out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them so that they died before the LORD. 3 Moses then said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD spoke: ‘Among the ones close to me I will show myself holy, and in the presence of all the people I will be honored.”  So Aaron kept silent. 

Leviticus 11:44a-45

“For I am the LORD your God and you are to sanctify yourselves and be holy because I am holy… 45 For I am the LORD who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God, and you are to be holy because I am holy.”

Nothing is hidden from the LORD.  It is folly to try to conceal anything in the first place, but we easily go astray and are deceived into thinking we can rationalize our unfaithfulness and make it acceptable in the sight of the One Holy One.

He is the same God today – still Holy in a new covenant.  He still wants our first fruits, our best – and is worthy of such an offering.  Somehow we buy into the philosophy that this amazing God of grace will wink His eye at our futile attempts because we “tried”.  It is this lukewarm washed down mentality that condones sin as being what is common and yet there is a cry in our souls that we are to seek to be Holy as He is Holy.  He who gave His very best, His only Son, expects such a sacrifice from those Who would receive such a mighty gift.

Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu were serving the LORD.  Not sure what the strange fire was, but it was straying from what God commanded.  What a privilege it is to serve in God’s house.  Not because of position, but because of His incredible redemption – taking rebels steeped in self and sin and changing them to humble servants, seeking to do His will.  So what happened?  How did Nadab and Abihu stray?  Were they placed there in a position that they were not qualified for because of relationship?  Did they have accountability?  There is not much that I detest more than seeing one of God’s children failing spiritually.  The ensuing disillusionment for many affected is devastating – all over choices made to gratify self instead of pleasing a Holy God.

The example of Aaron’s sons terrifies me because I want to be found faithful but see the same capability in myself. Corruption is the natural course for us all, apart from accountability, the grace of God and the fear of God firm in our hearts. Could this sin have been avoided?  We can try to blame Dad, but his sons were all grown up by this point.  Maybe something was lacking in their training and they could have filled a two-part series on Oprah about the struggles of being PK’s.  I don’t know, but I do know that we have no one to blame for our own faithlessness other than ourselves.

In the struggle of humanity, His grace is still available to all who would reach for it.  The problem is we often do not see our need of it.  The lavish grace and blood spilled out on our behalf was not so we could just be saved and live apart from Him, but His pure, Holy sacrifice serves as a vivid reminder of the depravity of our soul when left to our own devices.  It cost HIm His life.  Back to Aaron’s sons.  They were there, offering sacrifices – right in front of them the reality of sin’s consequences – blood spilled out to cover sins – and it became merely ritual to them, something they could do their way.

This same attitude is in the church today.  Elements of the church service are fought over as different perspectives over how each aspect of our worship service should be done.  Wow, has the body of Christ missed it big time.  It is all about Him. How can we reveal His love and glory to those coming, hungering for more of Him?

In our desire to serve God and share His salvation with a lost world, we can easily get lost and forget in the midst of our programs and plans that we still serve a Holy God.  Familiarity with the church service can become religious dogma, but God is watching to see who acknowledges Him and His holiness in the midst of our routine.  Maybe routine is a distraction that can cover our nakedness before the LORD.  It is easier to go through the motions than to lay our hearts transparent before Him to do surgery.  Don’t get me wrong – order in our services is a framework that can really glorify God, but God help us to never allow that framework to become mere duty.  Nothing is routine with Him and He wants to fill our churches with His presence.

This weary world is spiraling out of control.  Judgment is coming and it starts with us – with God’s church.  The time to quarrel about techniques and perspectives is over.  The days are evil.  We must be all about cooperation and God’s glory. If we rend our hearts and set aside trying to sanitize our waywardness and instead expose our desperate need for a Holy God, in that beautiful place is liberty and true worship of our King.  He reveals our sin that we might confess our sins and find incredible mercy in His presence.

Unequal “Yokedom” and Keeping Our Children’s Hearts

Photo Credits: My son Sam

Photo Credits:
My son Sam

Genesis 28:1-7

28:1 So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him. Then he commanded him, “You must not marry a Canaanite woman2 Leave immediately for Paddan Aram! Go to the house of Bethuel, your mother’s father, and find yourself a wife there, among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. 3 May the sovereign God bless you! May he make you fruitful and give you a multitude of descendants!  Then you will become a large nation4 May he give you and your descendants the blessing he gave to Abraham so that you may possess the land God gave to Abraham, the land where you have been living as a temporary resident.” 5 So Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean and brother of Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau.  6 Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him off to Paddan Aram to find a wife there. As he blessed him, Isaac commanded him, “You must not marry a Canaanite woman.” 7Jacob obeyed his father and mother and left for Paddan Aram.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18

“Do not become partners with those who do not believe, for what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship does light have with darkness? 15 And what agreement does Christ have with Beliar? Or what does a believer share in common with an unbeliever? 16 And what mutual agreement does the temple of God have with idols? For we are the temple of the living God, just as God said, “I will live in them and will walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 17 Thereforecome out from their midst, and be separate,” says the Lord, “and touch no unclean thing, and I will welcome you, 18 and I will be a father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters,” says the All-Powerful Lord.”

Ok, so we are not cattle and it might seem a bit archaic to still use the terminology “yoked”.  Perhaps another analogy would serve today’s generation better, nonetheless our souls confirm this truth.  It was not a racial slur when Jacob’s parents were opposed to Jacob marrying a Caananite woman.  They knew that Jacob’s heart could be turned away from following the living God by marrying an unbelieving spouse.  This is not just a principle for the Old Testament.  I fear in our day of tolerance and relevance that we have lost touch with the truth that God’s word never changes and His principles still stand, no matter how sophisticated or independent we think we’ve become.

I have three daughters and two sons that God has blessed me with.  Later in life, He also brought a step-daughter into my life.  When God enabled me to be a parent, my greatest heart’s desire was that I would be faithful to raise them in the LORD.  God was seeking godly offspring when He chose Abraham and when He chose us.  These children He has given are truly His.  Being charged with guarding their hearts and guiding them in Christ has been a challenging task, indeed, but it is worth it.

Suitors are now coming to call and the foundation that was laid all of these years is holding, by the grace of God.  It is not easy, and I, too, can easily falter if it were not for the compass I hold in my hand each day – the Bible.  You see, the philosophy of this day and age is to minimize the authority that parents have in their children’s lives.  It is viewed as old-fashioned.  So be it.  The role God gave parents is one He holds them accountable for, and that truth, coupled with the fear of the LORD, keeps me seeking God for His choice, not mine, in my children’s lives.

Worldliness is easy.  It is so woven into all of society, even in Christian places, that we can become dumbed down and not detect it anymore.  It is so hard to keep our hearts, let alone our children’s.  If I put my oxygen mask (the Bible) on each day, I am able to see clearly enough to place it on my children, but this also requires discipline and consistency in my life.

It starts when they are young.  Even when my children were first able to understand, I shared with them God’s word and how it differed from the world around us.  At that time I told them we were not going to follow the customs of the culture around us, including dating at a young age.  The follow up to that standard never relents and must not just be a legalistic mantra.  Godly standards flowing from genuine conviction breathe life, not rebellion.

This morning, my 10-year-old son knew I was not to be interrupted during my devotion time.  It is still so hard for him to not do so. Instead, he got his Bible out and read beside me and drew a picture from his devotion time, which I used for today’s blog. These moments are precious, but we cannot rest in them.  We have to keep building on this foundation and remind our kids that the faith they were taught has to become their own.

Back to my daughters.  Young men are now coming, asking to date or court my two oldest – pesky thing it is, them growing up.  Trying to walk the line of counseling my daughters and letting them make decisions is difficult, to say the least.  True character is shown soon enough, though, whether a young man will respect the parent’s place in the young woman’s life whom he admires, or whether he will secretly attempt to subvert the authority God has placed in my daughter’s lives.

We did not permit dating or courtship until they were 18 and have certainly been judged for doing so.  No regrets here. This past week I had the joy of having a godly young man inquire after one of my daughters.  They have been friends for a year and a half and walked through this process beautifully.  Moments like this make it all worth it.  Suitors can lie, manipulate and couch their professions of love in “Christianese”, but the Holy Spirit is able to guide important life decisions.  We just have to be seeking and listening.  True character is shown in time – we just must be vigilant!

My older son is a couple of years away from adulthood now.  Completely different and also much the same.  The principles of purity and guarding our hearts have been laid as groundwork since before he could first understand those words.  May he and his younger brother continue to walk in God’s ways and seek a righteous wife someday, for even the wisest man, Solomon, had wives turn his heart away from God toward worthless things.

Although Jacob might have easily disregarded his parent’s counsel, he did not.  He chose to obey and was rewarded for it. He had his own past of deceit and maybe learned from it.  My prayer is that my children will continue to choose the path of following God, but that will be their decision.  I am blessed to say that they are walking with God, but the spiritual battle for all of our children’s hearts is waged daily.  We have experienced firsthand how the disobedience of one person caused incredible pain and horrific consequences in our lives.  We do not want to walk that path again.

We never arrive as parents and never are done inspiring our children to love God.  The costs are just too high, and future generations are counting on the faithfulness of us right now.  We cannot become trapped in cultural pressure or fads.  Even terminology can become an idol – dating or courtship.  Choices lie before us all each day.  What we choose impacts those who follow behind us.  I choose by the grace of God blessing and not a curse – walking in obedience over rebellion, life over death.  What say you?

Lord, thank you for saving me and showing me the need for discipleship of the children You have given.  When I fall short, LORD, protect their hearts and enable us to follow hard after You, for You are our life!