Tuesday, September 20, 2011


One of the things I enjoy most is rebuilding old bicycles. I love to find bikes that have been neglected, but are still repairable, so I can restore them to their original glimmer. The most time consuming part is preparing the frame and parts for paint. The first step is to remove as much paint as possible with sandpaper, wire brushes etc. Next, it's time to dawn protective goggles, gloves and respirator mask to get ready for sandblasting. This is tough work and dirty work as the granules of sand bounce off the metal at high speed and pelt the one using the blaster in every uncovered area. Through squinted eyes, I still love to watch the sand do it's job, like painting in reverse. It is so satisfying to see the rust, neglect and old paint slowly strip away to expose a surface that can be successfully painted into something beautiful.

We started in the book of Jonah this week and something that Johnathan said really struck me.

"God doesn't expose us to beat us up, but to build us up."

Jonah 1:1-3
Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me. But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD.

Most people have heard the story of the man who was swallowed by a fish and then vomited up on land- almost seems like something from the "Epic of Gilgamesh" or "The Never Ending Story". But in believing that all scripture is true, we move forward with what God is trying to teach us here.
First, I had never thought about who Jonah was. I didn't realize that he had a proven prophetical track record, and had already responded to God's words. In 2 Kings 14:25, we see him giving prophetic counsel to King Jeroboam II. A man who had worked in the kings court and had successfully given prophetic direction and seen it come to fruition. What this means is that I am not immune to ignoring a directive from God. I am not immune to running from Him. No matter how successful I have been in service to Him in the past, I am not immune to screwing up in the future.
This is humbling and unsettling. But did you ever think that maybe the story of the fish and the man inside was something that God intended to use for Jonah's own good? Is it possible that God knew what Jonah's response would be and for that very reason chose Jonah to send His message to Nineveh?

This is where the sandblasting happens. This is where God strips down all the past successes and failures, removing the rust and old paint, so as to replace it better than it was before. Do I really believe that God doesn't expose me to tear me down? If I truly do, then it is in those times when I feel like I'll never be enough, like all I thought I had going for me is useless, and I am totally out of my element, that he may be sandblasting. It's not fun for Him, and not comfortable for me, but the result is a better rendition of myself in the end. Sometimes the paint is bonded better and takes longer to remove, and sometimes the flakes just fly, but if I can endure, and keep my focus on trusting God while he does what needs to be done, then the end result will be better than I could've ever imagined.

This week, when you are feeling the sting of sand on your skin, and you feel like you are in situations where you are unprepared and exposed, start looking at the places where God is at work, and thank him. Make your focus this week to stay continually in a place of gratitude with God, even when you feel like things are unfair, and see if by the end of the week you aren't in a better place - more prepared to become the person God wants you to be.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Royal Priesthood...

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day who asked me if I was trying to be clergy... Having not grown up catholic, I didn't really know what to do with the word "clergy" but I figured it was something like pastor, so I said yes. But what does that really mean?

1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you our of darkness into his marvelous light.

Don't get messed up in false offense with the whole "chosen race" thing here. It is simply referring to those that God has called (anyone who believes) as a separate people group, all sharing the same beliefs.

According to Peter, all believers are a "Royal Priesthood". So I guess by default, if I have said to Jesus, "My life is no longer mine, but yours because of your work for my sake on the cross..." then I have become a "Royal Priest". That feels weird. So what does this rhetoric really mean?

If Christ is the king, and I am now considered one of his children, then there's the royalty part, but what about the priest part? I don't wear robes and sing melancholy gregorian chant in a building surrounded by varnished wood and stained glass. I don't use words like "Bless you my child..." or "In his great manifold wisdom we honor thee and cherish this holy Septuagint..." In fact, I'm not eve sure what a Septuagint is.

I think the "Royal Priesthood" is simply a statement of who we are. We are royalty. We are in awe of the fact that God (the King) loved us enough to send his Son so that we could personally get to know the KING on an intimate level - - that is huge!! This should incite us to be not only grateful, but telling everyone about it and living in such a way that would honor the King - - there is our Priesthood. A priest simply tells others about Christ - and in the same way, our actions and words will be doing the same if we are living up to who we truly are. We are Royalty. We are priests.

This week - ask yourself if you are living as Royalty - as a child of the King? The priesthood part can only come if you have truly internalized how much you are loved by your God and your king. This is a big deal. If you find yourself worried about what others think of you, and often being swayed because of the things around you, then are you really convinced that you are royalty?