RSS

Tag Archives: Jeremiah

“Ask For the Ancient Paths”

“Ask For the Ancient Paths”

“This is what the Lord says: ‘Stand by the roadways and look. Ask about the ancient paths, “Which is the way to what is good?” Then take it and find rest for yourselves.‘” (Jeremiah 6:16).

My own personal journey has led me down ancient paths. Over 30 years ago, I was gripped by a love and desire for the experience of the ancient, early church. I have always wanted to be a part of a contemporary Christian tradition that has beaten a consistent path from the first century to the present … and would most fully connect me to the early church, both in word and practice. The journey has led me to the classical Christianity ensconced in Lutheranism (particularly in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod). I have chosen to take this path … and have found rest for myself. I recommend it without reservation.

This week our church* is beginning a 9-week preaching series called Ask For the Ancient Paths. It is a study of the six chief parts of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism: the Creed, the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, the Lord’s Supper, Baptism, and Confession/Absolution. This series provides an ideal time for me to share some of my journey as it relates to the foundational teachings of classical Christianity as put forth in the Lutheran Catechism.

Feel free to engage with your questions, comments and critiques. “One who listens to life-giving rebukes will be at home among the wise. Anyone who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever listens to correction acquires good sense” (Prov. 15:31-32). Good sense, wise company, life! My journey continues. I hope yours will, too.

So, grab your hat, your sun-screen, your walking stick … let’s explore this ancient path together.

– EO

* Christ’s Greenfield Lutheran Church (LCMS), Gilbert, AZ

 

Advertisements
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Great and Terrible Day of the Lord

20151211_071329 (2)Yesterday, I penned these words: “Get up early … Take in the sunrise.” Today I was gifted with a beautiful desert morning – as if God was saying, “I’m good. I’m beautiful. And I’m coming soon. Return to me again today.”

The beauty of the sunrise is portent of grace for those who believe. For those who don’t, not so much.

Read Amos 5:1-20

(Amos begins by heaving a personal, heavy sigh. “They hate the one who reproves in the gate, and they abhor the one who speaks the truth.” Yup. More often than not, we believe that what we’re doing is the right thing. No one wants to feel like they need correction. No one wants to be called a sinner. No one wants a prophet meddling in their business. “For I know how many are your transgressions, and how great are your sins” (v.12). Yah, that’s going to go over well.)

As is the case with all of God’s prophets and their prophecies, there is a grace-calm before the judgment-storm: “Seek good! … the LORD will be with you! … It may be that the LORD will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph!” (vs.14-15). That’s the call of Advent – return to the Lord, and seek His presence in a good, reconciled way! I hope you’re embracing that message, because…

THE DAY OF THE LORD

… His presence does not always mean mercy. He’s coming soon, and “will pass through the midst of you” v.17), but the result of that day, “The Day of the Lord”, will be bitter wailing, mourning and lament. In short: For those who have prepared for His coming, it will be the most fantastic day we could imagine! Beyond what we could ask, think, or imagine, actually. But for those who haven’t prepared, who aren’t reconciled with God, who have not been born again by the Spirit…

“Alas for the day! For the day of the Lord is near, and as destruction from the Almighty it comes … Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming … the day of the Lord is great and very awesome; who can endure it?” – Joel 1:15, 2:1,11

“Wail, for the day of the Lord is near; as destruction from the Almighty it will come! Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the land a desolation and to destroy its sinners from it.” – Isaiah 13:6,9

“That day is the day of the Lord God of hosts, a day of vengeance, to avenge himself on his foes. The sword shall devour and be sated and drink its fill of their blood.” – Jeremiah 46:10

“For the day is near, the day of the Lord is near; it will be a day of clouds, a time of doom for the nations.” – Ezekiel 30:3

“The great day of the Lord is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the Lord is bitter; the mighty man cries aloud there.” – Zephaniah 1:14

Amos also says in today’s text:

“Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord! Why would you have the day of the Lord? It is darkness, and not light, as if a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him, or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall, and a serpent bit him. Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light, and gloom with no brightness in it?” – Amos 5:18

The spirit of the Advent season is so important! We don’t want to be on the outside looking in of God’s grace at the return of Christ. And we don’t want that for the world around us. Get ready … and spread the urgent word of reconciliation! Oh, and live well … that’s tomorrow’s theme.

– EO

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 11, 2015 in Advent 2015, Amos

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Well, Well … If It Isn’t the Truth Teller …

Let’s face it: We live in an age in which people want their understanding of truth to be affirmed, not challenged. They want their opinion to be honored, not corrected. A preferred truth reigns over actual truth. “There is a way that seems right to a man,” and it is heresy for that man to capitulate to the words of another.

Jeremiah 38: God’s prophet has a word for the people: Surrender to Babylon. You’ll live, and the city will be saved.  But, if you try to defend yourselves from Babylon, you’ll lose, and the city will be burned to the ground (38:17-18).

Jeremiah didn’t make this up. It’s the word of God. Hejeremiah_pit‘s just doing his job – hear from God, and tell the people. All he wants to do it help. And he’s right.

But the self-confident and hawkish military leaders under King Zedekiah say, “This man ought to be put to death, because he is discouraging the soldiers … he is not seeking the welfare of this people, but their harm” (38:4). Their answer? Get royal permission to have Jeremiah killed. Their method? Throw him into a muddy well to die … “and Jeremiah sank in the mud” (38:6).

Well … Jeremiah gets saved by a very nice eunuch from the palace, and gets another audience with Zedekiah. Despite his near-death experience in the cistern, Jeremiah’s prophetic word remains the same. Zedekiah hears them, and believes them … but knows the political ramifications of accepting Jeremiah’s version of the truth, and putting it into practice. So he charges Jeremiah: “Do not let anyone else know of this conversation, or you will die” (38:24).

Well, well … Jeremiah and Zedekiah are now in cahoots. They want to bless the people by leading them according to truth. But they both know that they are on a slippery slope that may well take them from unpopularity to assassination.

Such is life as a spokesman for God’s truth.

Parents experience this every day. All good parents want to do is bless their children. Good parents know truths that their children don’t. But the kids don’t see it that way. When parents insist on what’s best for a child, they will often be met with pouts, tantrums, slammed doors and withheld affection. Parents are then tempted to toss their convictions into the well … to keep the peace, and stay liked.

Pastors deal with this, too. Steeped in the study of the scriptures, pastors have good ideas about lives can be lived within the blessing of God. They often see trouble coming in people’s sin-bent lives, and want to see them saved from self-destruction. But God forbid that they challenge people with those truths! It’s far easier, in the name of “love” and “inclusivity” to affirm the “way that seems right to a man,” and let the chips fall where they may. People’s lives may fail, but at least they’ll like their church.

Christian citizens are in a similar cultural predicament. We love our neighbors … we really do! We know that living according to God’s truths spells blessing for them. And we know that the wages of disobedience to those truths (a.k.a., “sin”) is death. So we proclaim. We warn. We try to persuade. We only want to help. But, no. We’re judgmental. We’re intolerant. We’re “haters”.

They threw Jeremiah in a well. Kids will try to run away from home. Parishioners will leave for other churches. And the world will blast and censor our Word-of-God-shaped cultural commentary.

Oh … and they crucified Jesus. Just before that Good Friday, He told his disciples, “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A
Mud People (2)servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours”
(John 15:20). 

Well … I sense it’s only going to get muddier.

 

 

Tags: , , , ,