Pleasure Seekers

3803641762_0dce488fdaTo many people, the pursuit of pleasure and being fully devoted to God are mutually exclusive endeavors.

If we are truthful we are people who believe that pleasure is found anywhere and everywhere but in God.Yet the testimony of Scripture is that pleasure is found only in pursuing God.

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Psalm 37:4

I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” Psalm 16:2

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Hebrews 11:6

Jon Bloom writes

Pleasure is the meter in your heart that measures how valuable, how precious someone or something is to you. Pleasure is the measure of your treasure. If something sinful gives you pleasure, it’s not a pleasure problem. It’s a treasure problem.

What lesser treasure have you settled for?  What lesser treasure has failed to sustain your happiness and sent you on a search for new pleasure?

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

 

Pleasure

is

the

Measure

of

your

Treasure!

The Dark Side

 after-american-idol-its-time-for-vietnam-idol_14  The 7th season of American Idol has begun!  Once again we get to listen to the good, the bad and the ugly as they audition before Simon, Paula and Randy.

This year the judges are trying to relax the contestants before they sing by asking them, “What do we need to know about you?  What about you would we find interesting?” 

On the first night of auditions, a young woman with no guile simply said, “I have never seen an “R” rated movie.”  Shocked, Simon asked, “Why not?”

The young woman with gentleness said that this was just something she had grown up observing and that she simply continued it in adulthood because it suited her. 

When asked if she was married, she responded, “Yes, I have been married for three years.”  The judges asked if her husband had ever seen an “R” movie and she again with winsome simplicity respondedamerican-idol-judges. “No.”

At that, Randy and Simon cut eyes at each other and with disbelieving sneers suggested that this woman did not know her husband and that he surely was lying to her and probably enjoyed Internet porn. 

After her audition she was invited to go to Hollywood and Simon suggested that given a week he could bring her over to the “dark side.”

The next night a boyishly good looking young man answered the question, “What do we need to know about you?’ by saying, “I’ve never kissed a girl.”

Again, the male judges pounced with condescending sneers.  The young man explained that his desire was to save expressions of physical intimacy for the woman he would marry.  His audition was not that strong and he was not invited to Hollywood.  When he asked what he could do to improve, Randy snidely replied, “Kiss some girls!’

It makes me sad that values that seem ennobling of  human nature are the source of such settled and unchallenged derision. It makes me sad that being drawn from purity and chastity to the “dark side” of sensual indulgence is presented as something to be valued.

It occurs to me that the show is very aptly named–it is all abut the idolatry of America! 

We lust after fame, after what is material, after what is pleasing to the senses, what is erotic and self indulgent. 

The warning of Psalm 115 resonates in my heart–we become like what we worship!  Simon by his own admission says it is dark where he lives—I want to live in the light of His Presence!

For our God is in the heavens,
    and he does as he wishes.
4    Their idols are merely things of silver and gold,
    shaped by human hands.
5    They cannot talk, though they have mouths,
    or see, though they have eyes!
6    They cannot hear with their ears,
    or smell with their noses,
7    or feel with their hands,
    or walk with their feet,
    or utter sounds with their throats!
8    And those who make them are just like them,
    as are all who trust in them.
(Psalm 115)

 

15    Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you,
    who walk in the light of your presence, O LORD.
16    They rejoice in your name all day long;
    they exult in your righteousness.  (Psalm 89)

Family Likeness

I began the day by reading Hebrews 2:10-18.  I lingered over these verses and was captured by the frequency of familial words that the author used and the theme of “family likeness” that he emphasizes.

  • bringing many children to glory (vs. 10)
  • Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. (vs. 11)
  • Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters (vs. 11)
  • I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters (vs. 12)
  • Here am I and the children whom God has given me (vs. 13)
  • the children share flesh and blood (vs. 14)
  • he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect (vs. 17)

post-68-1179042653I got a Christmas card with a family photo in it yesterday.  Casey’s first words when she saw the picture were, “Boy, Levi sure looks like his Dad!”

She was exactly right!  The little boy bore a striking resemblance to his father.  In fact, the word “likeness” means the quality of resembling, or corresponding to another. 

I was once again struck by the wonder of Jesus becoming like us in order to make a way for us to become like Him!  These verses even delineate what that means:

  • It means pursuing holiness–a life set apart for God’s exclusive use. (vs. 11)
  • It means being caught up in a life of worship. (vs. 12)
    • How cool to see that we sing because Jesus sings praises!
    • We proclaim God’s glory because our brother Jesus showed us that was what gives our life significance.
  • It means living by faith not sight.  (vs. 13)
  • It means making ourselves available to serve. (vs. 13)
  • It means sharing the suffering of others — identifying ourselves with them in order to help overcome freedom robbing bondage. (vs. 14-15)
  • It means helping those who cannot help themselves–not from a place of superiority but from a place of identity (vs. 18)

Amazing that Jesus was not ashamed to become like us. 

The word “like” means to be “suitable or agreeable to, to feel attraction toward or pleasure in, to wish to have.” 

Am I ashamed for others to see me agreeable to, taking pleasure in or wishing to have more of Jesus? 

If my “like” does not result in “like-ness” to brother Jesus…whose likeness will I bear?

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”  (John 8:44)

Dead to the World

Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat.

But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life.

But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.” 

(John 12:24, The Message) 

Q: How are we to become “dead to the world?”

  • by dying to the desire for a trouble free life.
  • by dying to our desire to express our freedom in an offensive and unbecoming manner.
  • by dying to the demanding need to have our own way.
  • by dying to the desire to have our preferences dominate.
  • by dying to the need to have no frustration in our lives.
  • by dying to the desire to be happy apart from God.

Q: What will sprout up out of this dying?

  • A winsome, becoming person who is not easily provoked, who is not ruled by her preferences, who wears deep contentment as a garment.  Who has learned that dying is the pathway to a recklessly wonderful life! 

Create in me a clean heart, O God

cave1.jpgMan, made more like God than any other creature, has become less like God than any other creature.  Created to reflect the Glory of God, he has retreated sullenly into his cave–reflecting only his own sinfulness.

A.W. Tozer

“Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!”  This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: “I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 

I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.  Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes?

You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.   Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.”
This is what the LORD says: “Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. 

You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.”
Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”

2 Samuel 12:7-13

It was the mercy of God that pursued David and did not allow his sin of arrogant self-centeredness to have the last word! 

What a horrible thing it would be if God allowed us to sin successfully!  How tender is our Father who would send the Nathan’s into our lives so that we might acknowledge the truth–a truth that sin’s lies blind us to.

David’s awareness of his sin occurred when there was a clash between 2 narratives.  He was writing his life story differently than God intended.  His story line had him at center stage, allowed to grab and possess anything he wanted without regard to any authority outside himself. 

The story gets radically redirected when God’s prophet Nathan corrects David’s plot line!  He brings to bear on David’s story a greater, truer narrative.  His story is supremely God centered and highlights the great generosity of God. 

It seems clear in this clash that God called his anointed back into right relationship–back into the reality that God and His word will rule!  It is glorious when David agrees with the correction and says, “I have sinned against the LORD”!

Father, I see in your Word that when I believe the words of my sinful mind–the thoughts that suggest that I need to grab and possess and consume– that you receive that activity as if I am despising you.  I cringe at the thought of how little I weigh my self centeredness and how much you are grieved by it. 

I write my story line as though there is no cost to writing you out and sending you off stage.  I yield my thoughts and embrace your truth once again.  Help me feel the weight of that moment by moment today so that my love of comfort, my desire for ease and convenience and immediate gratification would not have the last word.  Lord, I want the last word to be “I love you!”  AMEN

Hot Heads

October 8,  2003

Hey my friend,

What a good prayer you have for commitment to wait as God unfolds “A Call to Prayer”.  You know I have come to realize that as He is William engineering timing He hems us in to wait by withholding what we are anticipating– so He engineers the wait whether we are patient or not!  It is all grace when we can wait without anxious chaffing and I know that is what you desire.  DSC01339 (Small)

I used my American clippers to cut 7 heads of hair yesterday before the clippers refused to continue– so I will haul the rest to “Good Boys” salon in Wakiso Town this afternoon and pay shillings to complete the task.  We shave the boys and girls heads right down to the scalp until their heads glisten in the light.   Recently one of the mamas went into the bush and broke off a leafy plant,   crushed it and rubbed the fresh shaved heads with it. VillageOnTheHill I asked why and she responded, “JjaJa, it can keep the heads from burning and even the insects will stay away!”  African hair is very coarse and the clippers got so hot after the 4th child that it was burning their scalps! DSC02181  DSC02083

This morning I will haul the 4 new ones to SOS clinic to get a blood test to see if they came to us with malaria. We were there the day we brought them to get them checked over and to get all started on antibiotic syrup for upper respiratory infections.  shopfront1.JPG  Flavia, housemother of cottage 3,  is believing that she too is having a relapse so we seek information for wise treatment today. I am completely in love with our new baby Chloe!   She got here on Monday and took her first steps yesterday!  Mama Flavia and I shouted with such delight that we scared her and she sat down and began to cry!  DSC00571  Thank you – thank you for tending to the things you have this week.  The way you have chosen to settle up financially is fine with us.  We are grateful beyond belief.  I am still not sure how we will celebrate but Casey seems okay with whatever comes.

She experienced some significant loneliness over the weekend and it was more painful to watch than to experience for myself.  This place is most fine but there is a point in the evening when you feel the loss of everything familiar.  God comes quickly.     We finally got a family picture taken for our prayer card.

That picture will always make me smile-we look so harmonious but James was mad because I woke him from a nap to take it and he still had sheet creases in his cheek-Casey was put out because she had come home ready to head out and visit and we told her she could not go to Melanie’s to play-I had just been on my back in that dress under a sink trying to tighten the faucet and was sweating up a storm?etc., etc,   DSC00333 The tree behind us was pushed over during construction and was lying side ways and growing ugly and crooked.  A dear guard here who loves trees helped us resurrect it and get it heading skyward again.  I wanted to remember his kind service to us.  Thought you’d appreciate the story behind the shot!
May God sustain you as you wait – the description of how He built excitement for the event when you could share about the information card that folks had received was priceless.  He will do that again and again.
You have my love and His,

lissa