Leviticus 26:1-13

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

We’ve been going through a section of scripture where the details may make your reading feel a little tedious. Please do your best NOT to skim. Let the images sink in. God made sure this material was preserved and included. Let’s see if we can see why…

Leviticus 26:1-13
“You shall not make idols for yourselves or erect an image or pillar, and you shall not set up a figured stone in your land to bow down to it, for I am the Lord your God. You shall keep my Sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.

“If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them, then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Your threshing shall last to the time of the grape harvest, and the grape harvest shall last to the time for sowing. And you shall eat your bread to the full and dwell in your land securely. I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid. And I will remove harmful beasts from the land, and the sword shall not go through your land. You shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall chase ten thousand, and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword. I will turn to you and make you fruitful and multiply you and will confirm my covenant with you. 10 You shall eat old store long kept, and you shall clear out the old to make way for the new. 11 I will make my dwelling[a] among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. 12 And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people. 13 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves. And I have broken the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Did you notice the “if” in verse 1?
Did they do that?
Do you?
What do you expect from me?

Leviticus 25:47-55

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

We’ve been going through a section of scripture where the details may make your reading feel a little tedious. Please do your best NOT to skim. Let the images sink in. God made sure this material was preserved and included. Let’s see if we can see why…

Leviticus 25:47-55
47 “If a stranger or sojourner with you becomes rich, and your brother beside him becomes poor and sells himself to the stranger or sojourner with you or to a member of the stranger’s clan, 48 then after he is sold he may be redeemed. One of his brothers may redeem him, 49 or his uncle or his cousin may redeem him, or a close relative from his clan may redeem him. Or if he grows rich he may redeem himself. 50 He shall calculate with his buyer from the year when he sold himself to him until the year of jubilee, and the price of his sale shall vary with the number of years. The time he was with his owner shall be rated as the time of a hired worker. 51 If there are still many years left, he shall pay proportionately for his redemption some of his sale price. 52 If there remain but a few years until the year of jubilee, he shall calculate and pay for his redemption in proportion to his years of service. 53 He shall treat him as a worker hired year by year. He shall not rule ruthlessly over him in your sight. 54 And if he is not redeemed by these means, then he and his children with him shall be released in the year of jubilee. 55 For it is to me that the people of Israel are servants.[a] They are my servants whom I brought out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
What does the Jubilee law teach you about possessions?
What does the Jubilee law teach you about life?
What does the Jubilee law teach you about me?

 

Music Part 5 – Which Way the Wind Blows

The (Christian) Music that Shaped Me – Part 5

(In this series I’ve been sharing music that has been influential to me, personally. My hope is twofold: First, that some of my younger friends will be able to appreciate “from whence we’ve come” and to be encouraged to continue to seek fresh ways to communicate their faith through music. Second, that those of my generation will enjoy looking back a bit, but more than that, I pray that we will continue to recognize and encourage the creativity of today’s Christian musicians. Here’s where you can find the Introduction, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.)


Elizabeth and Walter Ward had three kids. Their firstborn, Annie, was already 10 years old when Nelly came along in 1955 followed by the only boy, Matthew, in 1958.

Elizabeth died from a brain tumor in 1968 and Walter lost his life to leukemia in 1970. Nelly & Matthew were still minors so Annie, and her new husband, Buck Herring, decided to take them in.

As you can imagine, life in these circumstances wasn’t easy, but Annie gathered the three siblings around her piano and they began singing together.

It sounded pretty awesome.

Eventually, Pat Boone heard them and produced a couple of singles for them. They also came to the attention of Barry McGuire who used them as back-up vocalists on a couple of his projects.

Their debut album, The 2nd Chapter of Acts *with Footnotes, came out in 1974. The same year I got married.

I have to admit that it took a little time to grow on me, but there was something unique about them.

The more I listened, the more this group affected me. As I think about it now, I realize that they are one of the sources of Christian music that shaped me.

Here’s why:

1) Annie Herring’s songwriting

That first album featured Easter Song. Wikipedia has an interesting article on how their recording of the song came about which you can read here. There are very few church choirs that haven’t performed that song and very few Christians who haven’t heard it. It has even found its way into many hymnals.

I love Easter Song, but Annie’s gift of writing unique music with powerful lyrics is evident on every single track they ever recorded. I’ve linked a few of my favorites below.

2) Nelly’s sibling harmony

Nelly seldom, if ever, took the lead. She had a rich alto voice that filled the gap between Annie’s soprano and Matthew’s powerful tenor. The three of them had a blend and precision that is very rare. It was a beautiful thing to hear.

 

3) Matthew’s voice

I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard anyone sing like Matthew Ward. He could blend with the girls to produce some of the sweetest harmonies you’ll ever hear. But he could also melt your face with some vocal licks that could land him a job as front man for any number of heavy rock bands. Just listen to The Devil’s Lost Again below! Matthew recorded several solo albums after his years with 2nd Chapter of Acts.

He, like his parents, has had his own dealings with cancer. But, unlike his parents, he has come through it alive. He continues to tour and sing and has provided back ground vocals for many artists including Donna Summer, LeAnn Rimes, Randy Stonehill, Sandi Patti, Jordin Sparks and others. I didn’t realize this until I began writing this piece, but he has also written an autobiography, My 2nd Chapter: The Matthew Ward Story. I think I may have to read it!

4) There’s one final thing that makes 2nd Chapter of Acts influential to me, and I think it’s the most important, but I’m having a hard time putting it into words. It has to do with creativity. When you hear them, you get the impression that they’re not trying to fit into some pre-defined genre. You can readily identify them when you hear them, but no two songs sound the same. I suppose that is due to Annie’s songwriting mentioned above, but it’s more than that. If you listen to the examples I’ve linked below, you’ll hear music that still stands up well 40 years later. That doesn’t happen when you try too hard to fit with what’s “trending now.”

They definitely did fit into that time and place, but I believe their music transcends both.

Lloyd


When I was a young man, just married and still trying to figure out where my life was going, this song spoke volumes to my heart. As I listen today with 42 years of marriage under my belt, two amazing adult daughters, 3 grandkids, and with a 35 year career of ministry behind me, I sometimes still wonder where my life is going. The song still speaks…

Which Way the Wind Blows

Which Way the Wind Blows
Anne Herring/Nelly Greisen 1974
Feel a feeling, say a saying,
But you’ll still be lonely,
If you think life is only for this moment.
Do a doing, mourn a mourning,
Still won’t get you off your sorrow.
So go ahead and cry,
but you can’t pry a look at tomorrow.
You don’t know which way the wind blows,
So how can you plan tomorrow?
You don’t know which way the wind blows,
So how can you plan tomorrow?
Run a running, hide a hiding,
Whenever you hear the truth.
And when you ask for the proof,

you won’t listen. Listen!

Praise a praising, build a building,
Trying to get peace into your life.
And you don’t even know wrong from right,
Oh, Where is your wisdom?
You don’t know which way the wind blows,
So how can you plan tomorrow?
You don’t know which way the wind blows,
So how can you plan tomorrow?
Die a dying, resurrecting,
By believing and receiving,
Forgiveness from Jesus who took the sin from sinning.You don’t know which way the wind blows,
So how can you plan tomorrow?
Jesus knows which way the wind blows,
So give Him your tomorrow!Believe Him and receive.


A few more of my favorites…
Featuring Matthew…
The Devil’s Lost Again


You can really hear those beautiful harmonies in this one…
The Son Comes Over the Hill


And of course the original…
Easter Song

My Picks for Tuesday 5-24-2016

Picks Tuesday

This is the stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

As a worship leader, this has always been a struggle…

What Dietrich Bonhoeffer Preached On Memorial Day
Trevin Wax
bonhoeffer_01
“Should a church commemorate Memorial Day? And if so, how?

Pastors and church leaders grapple with this issue every May and face similar questions around the Fourth of July. How do you balance gratitude for our nation with the truth that we are citizens of another kingdom? Can patriotism and Christianity mix? Should they?

We are not the first generation of believers to face this question.

As a young German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was asked to preach on National Memorial Day in Berlin, on February 21, 1932. These were tumultuous times for Germany. Hitler’s party was on the rise, and Bonhoeffer felt the need to equip the church for suffering in the days ahead.

What should a preacher communicate on a day that memorialized the Germans who died in the first world war? What words would be appropriate, or more importantly, Christian?


I loved reading her conversion testimony…

Nicole Cliffe: How God Messed Up My Happy Atheist Life
Nicole Cliffe: How God Messed Up My Happy Atheist Life“Like many atheists (who are generally lovely moral people like my father, who would refuse to enter heaven and instead wait outside with his Miles Davis LPs), I started out snarky and defensive about religion, but eventually came to think it was probably nice for people of faith to have faith. I held to that, even though the idea of a benign deity who created and loved us was obviously nonsense, and all that awaited us beyond the grave was joyful oblivion…

…I did not wish to believe. I had no untapped, unanswered yearnings. All was well in the state of Denmark. And then it wasn’t…

…I never possessed much chill, to be honest. Now I have none whatsoever.

There are times I feel a bit like a medieval peasant, in that I believe wholly in God now, but don’t always do what he wants, or, like Scarlett O’Hara, put hard conversations with him off until I’ve done the thing I wanted to do. It’s a thrumming backdrop to the rest of my life. My Christian conversion has granted me no simplicity. It has complicated all of my relationships, changed how I feel about money, messed up my public persona, and made me wonder if I should be on Twitter at all.

Obviously, it’s been very beautiful.”


The Crayon EffectManuel Luz
Colorful Crayons
“Today’s current trend toward coloring books for adults is rooted in an implied understanding that focusing on the act of coloring relieves stress and anxiety. Some also argue that coloring is an act of anti-technology, something that allows our brains an opportunity to unplug and recharge. And some argue that coloring  is an invitation to the boomer and buster to re-experience some aspect of their childhood. And while I believe all of these reasons to be experientially true, I think that we may have somehow missed the point.

You see, the very act of creativity is a life-giving act. That’s how God made us.

Because I believe that it is not just the re-experiencing of one’s childhood memories that we crave. It is more so the act of once again being a child, with child-like curiosity and wonder and a natural craving for the creative process. Our adult souls are filled through the act of creativity, but in our high-tech, entertainment-filled, internet-saturated world, we adults have simply lost the means to express it.”


Thom is great at compiling lists like this. I think this one is particularly important…

Seven Ways Church Outreach Has Changed in 15 Years
Thom Rainer
Seven-Ways-Church-Outreach-Has-Changed-in-15-Years
“So what are churches doing to reach people today, Thom?”

I hear some version of that question on a regular basis. The difficult response is that more churches are doing nothing rather than something.

But, to be fair, thousands of churches are doing some type of outreach to their communities and beyond. But the times have definitely changed. Here are seven of the most common changes in church outreach practices over the past one to two decades…

…These are not merely shifts; they are dramatic changes. And most of the changes took place in a relatively brief period.”


“I am Groot.”
807f4e60fdec01335e11005056a9545d
Source: Off the Mark

Leviticus 25:35-46

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

We’ve been going through a section of scripture where the details may make your reading feel a little tedious. Please do your best NOT to skim. Let the images sink in. God made sure this material was preserved and included. Let’s see if we can see why…

Leviticus 25:35-46
35 “If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. 36 Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you. 37 You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit. 38 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God.

39 “If your brother becomes poor beside you and sells himself to you, you shall not make him serve as a slave: 40 he shall be with you as a hired worker and as a sojourner. He shall serve with you until the year of the jubilee. 41 Then he shall go out from you, he and his children with him, and go back to his own clan and return to the possession of his fathers. 42 For they are my servants,[a] whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as slaves. 43 You shall not rule over him ruthlessly but shall fear your God. 44 As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are around you. 45 You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their clans that are with you, who have been born in your land, and they may be your property. 46 You may bequeath them to your sons after you to inherit as a possession forever. You may make slaves of them, but over your brothers the people of Israel you shall not rule, one over another ruthlessly.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
How do you care for your family who might be in need?
How do you care for your fellow Christians who might be in need?
Think about slavery.
Why do you think I allowed it?
Describe the slave/master relationship from my point of view,
the way I think it should work.

My Picks for Monday 5-23-2016

Picks Monday

This is the stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

Good reminder that God keeps ALL His promises…

Not Every Promise is a Happy One. But Every Promise is an Opportunity.Michael Kelley
pinky-promise
We should not be surprised at being insulted or marginalized; we should not be dismayed when the faithful are sick in the ICU next to the unfaithful; we should not be panicked when the children of God lose their jobs or suffer in the drought or whatever else might come. We should not be surprised because Jesus has promised that it would be so.

Not every promise is a happy one.

But every promise, be it happy or not, is an opportunity to look back to the God who keeps His promises. The problem is when these things, truly difficult and heart-wrenching and burdensome things, happen, our tendency is to doubt whether God is truly for us. Or truly loves us. Or is truly working for our good. But rather than cause us to doubt, these circumstances are an opportunity for us to be reaffirmed in our faith that God does indeed mean what He says and says what He means.”


I really enjoyed this piece…

His Eye is On The SasquatchJared C. Wilson
patterson
“And maybe there are Bigfoots in the North American woods. I mean, we didn’t know about the mountain gorilla until 1902! Can you believe that? An actual large primate we didn’t know anything about until the 20th century?…

…God has bathed this world in wonder in such a way that mere examination can’t do it justice. Recently noted atheist scientist and TV personality Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted, “I wonder who was the first person to see a bird soaring high above & think it a good idea to capture it and lock it in a cage.” Some wiseacre replied, “A scientist.”

Science can help us see the wonder, but it can’t quite figure out how to help us wonder at the wonder. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “In Science we have been reading only the notes to a poem; in Christianity we find the poem itself.”

And this is why I hope we never catch Bigfoot: If we did, the fun would be gone…

…I like that God keeps some things just to himself. It reminds me that he’s God and I’m not. It reminds me that this world he’s created is revealing his glory, not mine.”


I knew there was something about this kind of thing that bugged me. Now I know what it is…

The Ungodly Burden of Paying It ForwardTim Fall
Freely Receive, Freely Give
“Is there anything more deceptive than being told you are receiving a gift only to find out there were strings attached?

“Someone just bought your coffee for you. They said it’s their gift to you.”

“Wow, that’s nice. Thanks!”

“Now they expect you to pay for someone else’s coffee.”

“Hm … tell me again how this is a ‘gift’?”

It’s not. It’s an empty gesture built on a deceptive philosophy…”


Maybe you’ve heard about the encouraging SCOTUS ruling on this religious liberty case, but have you noticed what’s missing in the media coverage?

Why do some journalists avoid using the name of the ‘Little Sisters of the Poor’?Terry Mattingly
“A case of “Little Sisters of the Poor” vs. “Powerful Men in Government” is a gift from the editorial gods. But our media are too busy scare-quoting “religious liberty” and pushing an authoritarian agenda. Actually identifying the Little Sisters, much less neutrally profiling them, much less giving their story the weight it deserves, that just won’t do. We have stories to cover poorly and narrative agendas to push…

…If any Republican president went to war against a group called Little Sisters of the Poor, that editorial gift would be unwrapped on every front page of every newspaper in the land. It would lead the nightly broadcast of every television news show. It would be joked about on Saturday Night Live. Comedians and virtue signalers across the land would “destroy” that Republican president every chance they got.”


There’s a lot of wisdom in Seth’s post today. I’ve quoted his conclusion…

The short run and the long runSeth Godin

“Add up the short runs, though, and you’re left with the long run. It’s going to be the long run a lot longer than the short run will last.

Act accordingly.”


I think I’ve heard that piece…
http://bizarro.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/bz-panel-05-19-16.jpg
Source: Bizarro

 

 

Leviticus 25:23-34

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

We’ve been going through a section of scripture where the details may make your reading feel a little tedious. Please do your best NOT to skim. Let the images sink in. God made sure this material was preserved and included. Let’s see if we can see why…

Leviticus 25:23-34
23 “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine. For you are strangers and sojourners with me. 24 And in all the country you possess, you shall allow a redemption of the land.

25 “If your brother becomes poor and sells part of his property, then his nearest redeemer shall come and redeem what his brother has sold. 26 If a man has no one to redeem it and then himself becomes prosperous and finds sufficient means to redeem it, 27 let him calculate the years since he sold it and pay back the balance to the man to whom he sold it, and then return to his property. 28 But if he does not have sufficient means to recover it, then what he sold shall remain in the hand of the buyer until the year of jubilee. In the jubilee it shall be released, and he shall return to his property.

29 “If a man sells a dwelling house in a walled city, he may redeem it within a year of its sale. For a full year he shall have the right of redemption. 30 If it is not redeemed within a full year, then the house in the walled city shall belong in perpetuity to the buyer, throughout his generations; it shall not be released in the jubilee. 31 But the houses of the villages that have no wall around them shall be classified with the fields of the land. They may be redeemed, and they shall be released in the jubilee. 32 As for the cities of the Levites, the Levites may redeem at any time the houses in the cities they possess. 33 And if one of the Levites exercises his right of redemption, then the house that was sold in a city they possess shall be released in the jubilee. For the houses in the cities of the Levites are their possession among the people of Israel. 34 But the fields of pastureland belonging to their cities may not be sold, for that is their possession forever.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
“You are strangers and sojourners with me.” (vs. 23)
What does this mean for your stuff?
How does this fact affect your life?
Think about this today.

Leviticus 25:1-22

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

We’ve been going through a section of scripture where the details may make your reading feel a little tedious. Please do your best NOT to skim. Let the images sink in. God made sure this material was preserved and included. Let’s see if we can see why…

Leviticus 25:1-22
The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you, the land shall keep a Sabbath to the Lord. For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its fruits, but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the Lord. You shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. You shall not reap what grows of itself in your harvest, or gather the grapes of your undressed vine. It shall be a year of solemn rest for the land. The Sabbath of the land[a] shall provide food for you, for yourself and for your male and female slaves[b] and for your hired worker and the sojourner who lives with you, and for your cattle and for the wild animals that are in your land: all its yield shall be for food.

“You shall count seven weeks[c] of years, seven times seven years, so that the time of the seven weeks of years shall give you forty-nine years. Then you shall sound the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month. On the Day of Atonement you shall sound the trumpet throughout all your land. 10 And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan. 11 That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of itself nor gather the grapes from the undressed vines. 12 For it is a jubilee. It shall be holy to you. You may eat the produce of the field.[d]

13 “In this year of jubilee each of you shall return to his property. 14 And if you make a sale to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor, you shall not wrong one another. 15 You shall pay your neighbor according to the number of years after the jubilee, and he shall sell to you according to the number of years for crops. 16 If the years are many, you shall increase the price, and if the years are few, you shall reduce the price, for it is the number of the crops that he is selling to you. 17 You shall not wrong one another, but you shall fear your God, for I am the Lord your God.

18 “Therefore you shall do my statutes and keep my rules and perform them, and then you will dwell in the land securely. 19 The land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and dwell in it securely. 20 And if you say, ‘What shall we eat in the seventh year, if we may not sow or gather in our crop?’ 21 I will command my blessing on you in the sixth year, so that it will produce a crop sufficient for three years. 22 When you sow in the eighth year, you will be eating some of the old crop; you shall eat the old until the ninth year, when its crop arrives.

From this passage I hear God asking me:
Logistically, do you see how this works?
Think it through. Think about the land, the crops, the people.
If this were put into practice, would it benefit everyone?
The poor? The rich?
Why do you think I commanded this?