• Making Something New

    Dec. 18th, 2019

    Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all around, and bring them to their own land. 22 And I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. And one king shall be king over them all, and they shall be no longer two nations, and no longer divided into two kingdoms. 23 They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions. But I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. (Eze 37:21–23)

    Across the street from my house they’ve torn down a big nursing home complex and now this space of land sits full of dirt, rock and mud, surrounded by ugly chainlink fence. I drive by it daily, often wondering what’s next for this lot. Will they put my favorite coffee shop there? Or what about a BBQ restaurant? Right now that land is vacant, with signs hanging on the fence warning us of caution and telling us to “keep off.” But soon, hung like an ornament against that chainlink fence will hang a sign, with an architectural design picturing what will soon occupy that space, and the anticipated words, “coming soon!” I look forward to that sign. That sign will turn my annoyance into anticipation. That space full of dirt will soon have a destination. Looking at a fence will become a longing for a future. 

    Ezekiel 37, and many other passages throughout Scripture put up this sign of destination. The Lord gives us a heavenly anticipation of “coming soon.” In fact, this season of advent is really a refocusing our attention on what has come, pointing us to what is coming. This season moves our imagination from seeing a land of dirt into a heavenly city. From a broken relationship, to one of peace. From a wandering heart to one of wholeness. We are not just patches of dirt that will be left encircled with fence, ugly and unappealing, purposeless and full of pain, but we are purchased people who are being shaped and formed into the image of the most beautiful Person imaginable, God’s Son, the incarnate King. Paul says it like this,For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked.” (2 Co 5:2–3)

    I’ve been reading through Ezekiel, trudging through the pain and death and destruction of the Israelite people and surrounding nations. All throughout this book, the theme is reiterated over and over, the Lord wants His people to know that He is the Lord (he says it 57 times in the book!). In chapter 37 the focus shifts from the desolate and exiled land to the hope of redemption coming to the people. The first half of the chapter is the prophecy of the Lord rebuilding and breathing life into the dead and dry bones, bringing life where there was death, bringing hope where there was exile, bringing light where there was darkness, and freedom where there was captivity. Then the Lord gives a second prophecy about a reunited Kingdom, where no longer they will have two nations (Israel and Judah) but only one. And their hearts will be changed, their sins will be forgiven, and shalom will be restored. 

    But here is what sticks out to me about this… we are the rocks, dirt and vacant space,  not nearly as glamorous as our Christmas cards make us seem, but the Lord sees great value and worth in us. He has given us the image of what we are becoming, promising to build us into something real. He makes glory from ashes. We see it all throughout this passage: “I will take them… and gather them… and bring them… and make them… and give them one King… I will save them… and I will be their God.” Up until this point the Israelites have done nothing but rebel. But their rock bottom of exile was the starting point to something worth remaking. 

    This advent season, we look to Jesus, who came as Lord and Savior, and came to remake us and this earth. He bestows on us this hope of a “coming soon” sign, pointing to our future glory and future redemption. So as we sit in the sadness of the dirt and experience the pain of being rebuilt, remember something glorious is coming. Something so glorious, we should chime in with the saints, Come Lord Jesus, Come. 

    - Caleb

  • Becoming Big

    - November 25, 2019 - 

    Last weekend I hit the end of my rope. It was a bad weekend. Full of anger, yelling, and disconnection. But the aftermath has been full of grace. 

    I reached out to my peers, explaining some difficult circumstances with my oldest son. I love him to death, but we often butt heads. He’s four and a half years old, and has some unique difficulties about him. He’s a more sensitive kid and his body can often get to a place where it’s uncontrollable. When he gets like this, he gets really big, powerful, and defiant. In his mind, he becomes scary. 

    A lot of the time this behavior pushes all of my buttons, and I respond by getting bigger, more powerful, more defiant, scarier and angrier. I’ve learned theres no worse feeling in the world then when I respond to him in a way that sends him off to his room, hiding in his closest, crying. Oh the shame. 

    But I got a call last week from someone who has walked these similar roads before. He provided me insight that pointed me to things beyond. He told me that my son thinks he’s big and scary. And he is a BIG kid - he wears 7 year old clothes at the age of 4. But Micah believes he’s bigger then me, and that terrifies him. He believes he’s big enough to break me down, and that scares him. He believes he’s big enough to tear me and Meggie apart, and that worries him. He believes he’s much bigger then he really is. 

    So the advice I received was to continually meet him at his bigness, and tell him, “Micah, you are a big kid, but know what is bigger then you? My love for you. You can’t break it down… Micah, you are a big kid, but you know what? You’re not big enough to break mommy and I apart… Micah, you are a big kid, but do you know who is bigger? I am. And God has put me in your life to use my bigness to protect you and provide for you and love you and care for you… Micah, you are big. But you’re not as big as you think, don’t worry.” As I tell him the truth, I will begin to watch him calm down. I will witness the comfort swarm over him body like a hot bath to cold skin. 

    His bigness terrifies him, because he knows the world is a scary place, and he’s afraid he can mess everything up. But he can’t. 

    We live in a world that tells us to be big. We put all of our blood, sweat and tears into becoming big. We want people to notice us. We want to feel like we’re in control of our destiny. We are unsure of the future, but we believe we have immortal capabilities, thinking we’re big enough to handle it. And because of this, we are anxious, stressed, and terrified. Why? Because we are playing a role that we can’t play. We aren’t big enough to take on this scary world, and that can be a good thing. 

    When we think about what it means to worship God, part of it is putting our mortal, “but-dust” lives, back into it’s proper place. We don’t use God to make us bigger and more powerful, but we look to God in a small and humble way, and take comfort that He is big and powerful. We are not big enough to break down His love for us. We are not big enough to break Him apart. We are not big enough to ruin His plans for us. Therefore worship is an act of putting ourselves under His Fatherly care, and hearing His reminder that He is in our life to protect us, and provide for us, guide us, and care for us. And that’s a good thing. 

    I’ve learned that when I respond to Micah’s bigness and anger with becoming small and weak, it calms him down. Because becoming small and weak is an act of handling his fear. Becoming small and weak is an action that says “you can’t break me down. I’ll still be here.” To respond to his bigness and anger with my own bigness and anger would be communicating to him, “I can’t control your bigness. You are too big for me. You control me.” It would meet him in his fear and make him more afraid. But responding calmly, says, “I see your bigness and anger, and I can handle it.” 

    When the Creator and Sustainer of this World became flesh, He became weak and small. He met us with our bigness and anger and took it. And this is love. This is turning the cheek, watching the anger dissipate when we realize it doesn’t affect him. This is perfect love. And perfect love casts out all fear. This is responding to our bigness and saying, I am bigger. You can trust me. 

    So let us be worshippers who are reminded daily of His bigness and power. That He is unmovable. He is who He will always be. That’s His Name, Yahweh (I am who I will always be). We cannot break His love for us. We are not big enough to mess up HIs plans for us. He is for us and with us. Not against us. 

    - Caleb