Category: Jeremiah (Page 2 of 3)

Very Good

CreationGodWe’ve spent this week looking at the inspiring beauty of Act One of the Story of God, the Pattern of the Kingdom the Creator establishes: God and mankind living in perfect harmony together, ruling and reigning together over a perfectly wonderful heavens and earth. Act One is good. It is “very good.” It’s an eternal blueprint for everything God is doing.

Now, today we don’t live in Act One. It’s long past. But what Act One tells us has important meaning for all people right now. In the beginning God created. That doesn’t just mean back there and back then. The Story says not only that God was Creator but that God is Creator! God’s creative activity is not limited to the distant past. It’s not like a long time ago God did everything he planned to do and then retreated from the scene to let the world run by itself.

Romans 4 tells us that even now, today, our God gives life to the dead and calls things into existence that do not exist. 2 Corinthians 5 declares that right now, today, we are a new creation in Christ Jesus our Lord. When we confess that God is the Creator, we are saying that God is continuously making new beginnings, opening up new possibilities, initiating new events. God is our Creator. And he is doing new things in our lives.

The psalmist did not say, “God created Adam and Eve a long time ago and we’re all descended from them.” He said, “You knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Read that again. You’ve heard it dozens of times. Read it again.

“You knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

We know the facts of life. We know where babies come from. But we also know that the process of procreation and gestation and giving birth don’t tell us the whole truth about where we came from, who we are, and where we’re going. We believe that God the Creator stands at the beginning of every single human life and goes with us on every single step of our own ways.

Your life might be formless and empty. Chaos. Darkness. Void. It can be obvious darkness and chaos like addiction or abuse or violence or disease. Or it could be a chaos underneath the surface, a chaos of the heart that’s hidden from almost everybody.

Jeremiah 31 says, “The Lord will create a new thing!” Our God, the Creator of “very good” things, can speak light and life into that darkness and void. He made you in his image. He made you “very good.” And his desire to live in a righteous relationship with you means he came here in Christ Jesus to make it happen. He’s committed to it. Your story, whatever it looks like to this point, is being written by a powerful and loving Creator who is devoted to your “very good.”

“Be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create!” ~Isaiah 65:18



God is The Creator

School2015And then there was one. For the first time in thirteen years, when we took first day of school pictures this morning, there was only one child standing in the frame holding her school supplies. Carley starts her sophomore year today at Canyon High School. Val began classes today at WT and Whitney is at United. So, yeah, this is different. Carley lamented last night that when I sing our traditional first-day-of-school song (that all the girls publicly protest, but secretly admire) she’ll be the only one I’m singing to. That’s right. Of course, I sang it loud enough so that maybe Valerie could have heard it. But how would I know: she’s not returning phone calls or texts.CarleySchool2015

Carrie-Anne is beginning her third year as the Culinary Arts Director at Canyon High. We had to stick C-A in one of the photos because Carley was feeling lonely.


CreationBeginning“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” ~Genesis 1:1

We mostly blow right past this opening sentence, when this opening sentence ought to blow us away. You can’t create a pencil. I can’t create a ping pong ball. We can’t create anything. And God created the heavens and the earth.

You can theorize about a big bang and discuss primordial matter all afternoon. But what we clearly have in Act One, Scene One is God speaking into nothing and creating everything. In the beginning, there is an explosion of life and God is the sole initiator. This story counters all the other stories that were out there at the time: that creation was a mistake, that it was the result of strife between rival gods, that human beings were an accident. All the creation stories before the one in Genesis were about conflict and hate and violence and war and mistakes. Our story says creation is the intentional action of a loving God.

“The Lord is the true God;
he is the living God, the eternal King.
These gods who did make the heavens and the earth will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.
God made the earth by his power;
he founded the world by his wisdom
and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.” ~Jeremiah 10:10-12

Act One tells us there was a beginning and in the beginning there was God. A person. With an identity and character and a consciousness. A God with a personality and traits and emotions. We are a theistic people. But we are not a generally theistic people, we are a specifically theistic people: we believe in the God of the Bible. He is all powerful and he is all responsible.

Sometimes we shake our fists at God. When he’s not doing what he think is loving or just or wise, we yell at God. “Why are you doing that? Why are you not doing this?” The reason we believe he is all responsible is because we believe there is no other God.

In Acts 4, the early church is praying for God to do something great. The Christians are being persecuted and arrested and thrown in prison. And the church prays. “God start healing people. God start doing miracles. God handle the problem of the government. God perform some mighty wonders.” They’re expecting great things. Why?

“Sovereign Lord, you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them.” ~Acts 4:24

God is the The Creator. It’s basic. It’s foundational. It’s so important. All of salvation is predicated on Creation. Once we get a handle on it, the whole rest of the Story of God makes perfect sense. The ugliness of sin, the redemption and New Creation of all bodies — it truly adds up when Creation is the first Act.



Knowledge is Yummy

If knowledge is understanding what God is doing, then one of the primary ways we receive this knowledge is through the written Word, the Scriptures. And, according to the Bible itself, that kind of knowledge is delicious.

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” ~Psalm 119:103

I think the Message translates this, “The Word of the Lord is better than the hot sauce at Abuelo’s!”

So, what do the words of God taste like? Have you ever eaten the Word?

“When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight.” ~Jeremiah 15:16

What happens when you eat something? It becomes a part of you. You assimilate it. “You are what you eat” is exactly right. And we know this. If a nursing mother eats fajitas for lunch with jalapenos and pico de gallo and onions and hot sauce, she’s going to be up all night — not because she’s sick, but because her baby is sick! The fajitas have become a part of the mom and so impact what she is delivering to others. You are what you eat. I look in the mirror and I can see the Whataburgers and the cheese tots and potato chips. They’ve become a part of me. The biggest part! Jeremiah says, “When your words came, I ate them. I digested them. I assimilated them. I made them a part of me.”

“‘Eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.’ So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.” ~Ezekiel 3:3

Ezekiel is being called into God’s service. Speak for me to Israel, God says. Tell them my plans. Tell them what I’m doing. Teach my people. Be an example to my people. Here, eat this scroll. My holy will, eat it. Make it a part of you. Be one with it. Fill your belly. Take it all in.

“I took the scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.” ~Revelation 10:10

The apostle John is on the island of Patmos on the Lord’s Day when he sees the giant angel. As the angel begins to speak, John begins taking notes. It’s just like something we would do, right? He wants to get it all down. Information. Content. I want to get this right. And the angel says, “No, don’t write it down. Eat it!”

The words of Scripture are written by the Holy Spirit in a way to get inside us. They’re intended to become a part of us. We don’t learn Scripture. We don’t use the Bible. We eat it. We ingest it. We take it into our lives in such a way that it metabolizes into acts of love, cups of cold water, hospital and prison visits, casseroles and cakes, groceries delivered, comfort and encouragement and evangelism and justice all done in the knowledge of God.

Isaiah says when the Kingdom is finally perfected, when God’s holy will has all been finally fulfilled, there will be righteousness and justice and peace because “the whole world will be full of the knowledge of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:9). The knowledge of God changes us. It changes the world. It changes everything.

When’s the last time you opened up to Deuteronomy or Joshua or Mark or Philippians and your mouth started to water? Do you ever eat the Word? Not for information, but for transformation!


It’s a business, that’s all it is. I’ve been convinced for more than 20 years now, the NFL and all its teams are only entities in a vast entertainment enterprise. And I’m as fine with that as I am with the reality of gravity: I know it and I don’t argue about it. Watching a Cowboys game is the same thing as watching a movie. Yes, it’s thousands of times better in a million different ways, but it’s much more like watching a great movie than it is like watching a regional group with all of your same passions and loyalties, your interests and values, compete against another group from somewhere else that represents that region’s people and culture. Yeah, you have a desire for one particular team to defeat the other, but you don’t root so hard as to be ridiculous, right? It’s a TV show! Grown men and women who are affected much more during and after a Cowboys game than they are during and after McFarland USA or Shark Tank seem a bit out of touch to me.

I’m not sure what I would do if I were DeMarco Murray. The NFL’s leading rusher and total yards from scrimmage leader last year is officially now this afternoon signing a free agent contract with the Eagles. I totally understand more money. I get Murray wanting the league-wide respect that apparently comes with the long-term lucrative deal.

But, he’s going from running the ball 25 times per game behind arguably the best and youngest offensive line in the NFL to a place where LeSean McCoy carried only 19 times per game behind a mostly shaky offensive front. Murray will wind up with 90 fewer carries next year behind an inferior line. He won’t get nearly as many opportunities in Chip Kelly’s spread offense — those guys are throwing the ball as soon as they step off the bus. And, besides all that, Murray’s going to have to pay a state income tax up there. Plus, it’s cold in Philadelphia. And the people aren’t nearly as nice as they are down here (mainly because they’re so cold). Is all of that really going to be worth it or is this a really short-sighted move?

Of course, I have no way to know what Jerry Wayne is offering to pay Murray. It may be insulting.

But the first plot line has been written today in the story of the Cowboys 2015 season in the NFC East. We’re off to an entertaining start.



Our Living God

(Posting a comment on this article automatically enters you into the drawing for the books to be given away in conjunction with this blog’s upcoming 1,000th post. See the details in a couple of posts back.)

“It is a violation of our rationalistic orientation to imagine the living God.” ~Walter Brueggemann, at the ACU Summit

God is forever changing. He is always surprising, always shocking. Always doing what we least expect at the very moment we think we’ve got him figured out. And we don’t like that. I think if we’re honest, we have to admit that, at the very least, we’re not comfortable with it. We like to think we know what God thinks and what he’s going to do in every circumstance. We like to think that if we study the Bible enough and talk about God enough and pray to him enough, we’ll know him. And knowing him, we mean having him figured out.

Good luck with that.

Our God changes his mind. Our God changes himself. Our holy Father repents and recants. He wrestles with his own feelings and emotions and goes back and forth all the time.


Walter Brueggemann reminded us last week in Abilene that our God cut off his covenant people in Hosea (“You are not my people, and I am not your God” Hosea 1:9) and then after declaring all the ways they had sinned and all the ways he was going to abandon them, he changes his mind (“I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God'” Hosea 2:23).

Following the Golden Calf incident, God promises to destroy his people. He tells Moses he’s going to start all over. He promises. Then, Moses talks him out of it. Moses presents a logical argument — what will the nations say? they’ll call you a weak and/or evil God! — and the Lord says, “Yeah, you’re right.” And he changes his mind. He forgives their sins and renews the covenant.

Over and over again in the prophets, God is said to “repent,” the Hebrew word shuv. He changes his mind. Jeremiah couldn’t be more clear that our God acts and reacts, he promises and then goes back on his promises, in response to current circumstances. He responds to the cries of his people. He’s moved by the plight of his children.

“If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent (repent) and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider (repent) the good I had intended to do for it” (Jeremiah 18:7-10).

Our God is a free agent. He is a living, moving, active God with a free will to do as he pleases. And we can’t always figure him out. He doesn’t have to answer to us or our finite ideas about him. There’s no way for us to get a firm handle on him. He says as much to Moses: “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion” (Exodus 33:19). Forget about trying to understand it. You can’t.

Thankfully, God has revealed his eternal glory to us, his everlasting nature. He is a kind and compassionate God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, forgiving sin… (Exodus 34:6-7) Moses and the prophets all appeal to this creedal statement when they’re attempting to change God’s mind or when they’re seeking comfort and confidence in the middle of horrible circumstances. But the other part of that statement, “Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation” (Exodus 34:7) gives us the problem. God’s going to do his thing in his own time. And it’s nearly always a surprise.

I think we need to embrace the hard-to-pin-down characteristics of our Father. I believe we should be shaped by the knowledge that our God is always changing his mind. The idea of a God who never changes will set us up for bitter disappointment when that God allows something to happen or causes something to happen that doesn’t fit with our hard and fast theological suppositions about him. What do we do then? And if God never changes, doesn’t that lead us to believe that we, too, should never change? If God never changes throughout all eternity, that might validate the life of a Christian who never changes. Some Christians never grow. They never change their minds. You know Christians like this; you may be a Christian like this. I’ve heard some Christians actually brag that they’ve never changed their minds about anything in Scripture. It’s all so clear to them — their understanding of God, their knowledge of his will and his ways, their church practices and Christian convictions — that changing their minds about anything has become a sign of weakness or of little faith.

Our God is changing his mind all the time. He’s open to it. He doesn’t apologize for it. We can deny it, we can be afraid of it, or we can embrace it as part of a real and dynamic relationship with a real and dynamic Father in Heaven.



False Vines

(Posting a comment on this article automatically enters you into the drawing for the books to be given away in conjunction with the upcoming historic 1,oooth post. See the previous couple of posts for details.)

“I am the true vine… Remain in me and I will remain in you.” ~John 15:1-8

Jesus calls himself the true vine. He urges us to stay connected to this true vine, to remain in this true vine, in order to produce fruit, to prove their discipleship to the King, and to bring glory to God. Jesus is the true vine. And that tells me there must be some false vines out there to which we sometimes attach ourselves.

We know what these false vines are. We recognize them as counterfeit and temporary. But the people who are connected to these vines all look pretty happy. They all look like they’re doing OK. So off we go…

Chasing after the false vines of money and power. Connecting to the false vines of pleasure and fame. Seeking our identity in the false vines of career and the athletic achievements of our children. Obsessed over and addicted to the false vines of entertainment and technology. Drawing energy and life’s meaning and purpose from the false vines of nationalism, patriotism, and worldly politics.

Like Jeremiah’s wild donkeys in heat, we can’t be restrained. We run after these false gods and connect ourselves to these false vines with barely a second thought. Like the people in Jeremiah, we proclaim, “I love foreign gods, and I must go after them!”

We need to all be reminded that this world’s politics is a false vine. The politics of this world are producing the rotten, stinking fruit of polarization and alienation, threat and insult, fear and hate. This nation’s politics are to the point, and have been for years, that if you disagree with me on just one issue, you are the enemy and you are thoroughly evil from head to toe. If you disagree with me on just one point, I label you and the conversation stops. I don’t listen to you anymore. All hope for community with you is abandoned. I label you and put you in your proper category and I insult you. You and your party and your candidate and your ideas and your intelligence and your character and your mama and your daddy and your greasy granny!

There is nothing remotely Christ-like about any of that.

As disciples of the Messiah, we must quickly come to the realization that in this country there is not one righteous party and one evil party, there is not one right set of candidates and one wrong set of candidates. What we have is one massive corrupt and worldly system that is powered and motivated by the principles of this world and that the Kingdom of God is working right now to overthrow and conquer! It’s a sinful and worldly system that the holy Son of God came to oppose and destroy!

As baptized disciples of Jesus, we are citizens of the eternal Kingdom of God. And God’s Church is very political. We are very committed to political thought and political actions. But our politics are not of this world. We belong to a Kingdom that is not of this world. We pledge allegiance to a King who is not of this world. So we do not do things the way the world does things. We do things the way Jesus does things.

This world will not be saved by power and force. You and your family are not going to be protected by your petitions and votes. Jesus has come to save and protect by sacrifice and submission, by selfless love and service. And I don’t hear any of that in today’s political ads. I don’t see any of that on anybody’s platform.

Our politics are entirely different because our King is unlike any other. Jesus is the true vine. He is not planted in the dirt of this world and thus destined to blow away. He is the true vine who is rooted in the eternity of God. Everything else we might attach ourselves to is a fake. It’s false. And it will suck the life and energy and meaning and purpose right out of you. Jesus is the only source for the life and energy, meaning and purpose we need to live as holy children of God. There are no other sources. And there is no other way.



Our God Forgives

Our God gives forgiveness. He gives forgiveness freely and generously and abundantly. He gives it in spades. He’s not bashful about his forgiveness. He’s not conservative about it in any way. It’s over-the-top forgiveness with our God. And we can’t preach it enough.

Our people need to understand deeply that they have been forgiven by their Father. Our churches need to know and comprehend that our God gives and gives and gives. He gives life and breath; he gives you your brown eyes; he gives you your love of ice-cream and the delight you get from songs by Journey. He’s given all of that to you.

And he’s looked carefully at your great debt. He’s studied it in detail. And he’s taken your debt and wiped it completely away. He’s obliterated it. It’s gone.

“You have put all my sins behind your back!” ~Isaiah 38:17

“You will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea!” ~Micah 7:19

“‘I will forgive their wickedness,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will remember their sins no more!'” ~Jeremiah 31:34

“I am he who blots out your transgressions!” ~Isaiah 43:25

“I have swept away your offense like a cloud!” ~Isaiah 44:22

Over and over and over again. He forgives and forgives and forgives. Old Testament and New Testament. The Law and the Apostles. The Prophets and the Epistles. The sins of the Israelites and the sins of the Church. Your sins and mine. God forgives! Our sins are out of sight, out of reach, out of mind, out of existence! Our Father has stopped keeping score on us! The ledger is clean! It’s a blank slate! Hallelujah! Through Christ Jesus our Lord the path is clear to a righteous relationship with our loving Creator. Sin has nothing on us anymore! Praise the God who gives and gives and gives!


Congratulations to Central’s own Collin Bowen who made the cover of the Amarillo Globe-News Pigskin Preview that came out today! Collin is the three-year starting quarterback for the explosive Randall Raiders who open up their season tomorrow night against Plainview. And he represents our Lord and his school with integrity and selfless sacrifice for others both on and off the field. Collin and the Raiders have plenty of time before they tangle with Central’s Blake Borger and the Amarillo Sandies in what should be the game that decides the District 3-4A title on October 25. While we look forward to that, we’ve got plenty to keep us occupied. The Sandies and Rebels renew their rivalry next Friday night; only this time it’ll be the first non-district game ever between the two schools. With Carrie-Anne teaching now at Tascosa, we are certainly a house divided. Panhandle’s Panthers play the first regular season game in the state here in about 30-minutes at Bivins, followed by the Rebels’ opener against Palo Duro’s Dons.

You Central members, please ask Collin to autograph your copy of the Pigskin Preview before or after church Sunday, not during.



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