Tag Archives: hands

Cairns

cairnsWhen I was hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park and other places like it, I noticed stones stacked up into little towers along the way. I now know that those collections of rocks are called cairns and they are placed there by hikers to guide future hikers along the path to show them where to go. Over the centuries, cairns have also been used as landmarks and memorials.

I got to thinking that cairns of sorts were used in the Bible by Abraham, Moses and Jacob as altars. Check out these verses:

When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. —Genesis 22:9

Abraham built this altar to acknowledge that God is God on his journey through his life, and he was saying through this cairn that he would obey God’s will. Of course, God would send an angel to stop Abraham from sacrificing his son. But later, God would sacrifice his own Son, Jesus, on the altar, the cairn, if you will, of the cross, which was erected on a rock hill called Golgotha.

Continue reading →

Plans

calendarI am a planner, I will admit. I like to schedule my day and my week and know when I will be where. This is a natural tendency among humans, we can all acknowledge, I think.

But during my recent illness, all my plans went out the window and I realized that I am not as in control of my time and my life as I like to think I am.

When I was talking about this with a friend of mine, she reminded me of this verse from Scripture:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15

So I have taken up the practice of prefacing my plans with the disclaimer, “If the Lord wills … ” And I do not find that confining or pessimistic in any way. I am just relaying to others that my plans are not up to me ultimately; they are up to God.

Continue reading →

Idolatry

golden calfWhen the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”  Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. —Exodus 32:1-4

When we hear the word idol, we think of things like statues and golden calves and we say to ourselves, “I don’t have any idols.”

But the truth is, of course, that idols can take all shapes and sizes and can be all sorts of things.

Whatever takes the place of God in our lives or pushes God to the side is an idol for us.

One look at our society today, and it is not too hard to spot our modern-day idols:

TV shows, our smartphones, the internet, social media, movies, video games, pop culture gossip, food, clothes, cars, our intellect, our abilities and skills, our jobs, our houses, our personal possessions, our social calendars, superstars, the desire to have fun, the need to be popular, the want to be first.

The list could go on.

When I think of what causes me to turn to idols, it is the same cause that the Israelites had in the wilderness: They did not trust God enough. They got impatient for God to do something to help them, and when they didn’t feel like God was doing it quick enough, they took matters into their own hands and crafted a calf from their own belongings.

What calves are you crafting lately, and why?

So much of life comes down to trust and we must as Christians put all our trust in God’s hands, not our own.

When we craft calves for ourselves, we are saying, “We don’t trust you anymore, God.”

And when we turn over our destiny to the things of this world, we have only disaster to look forward to.

Everything on this earth will cease to exist someday, and all that we will have is God.

So do a good hard idolatry inventory and cast aside all that takes your focus off of the one true God.

As the Bible says,

The grass withers, the flower fades,
    but the word of our God will stand forever. —Isaiah 40:8

And never forget that Christ went to the cross to take away all our idolatrous ways and bring us back to God. The shadow of that cross is what keeps idols at bay to this very day.

For more insight into this topic, I highly recommend one of my favorite books Penguins and Golden Calves: Icons and Idols by Madeleine L’Engle.

Agents of Blessing

hands of blessingWhen my niece was confirmed several weeks again, I as her godfather was asked to place my hand on her, along with her parents and godmother, as she was being confirmed by the pastor. Then last week, to mark the 20th anniversary of my pastor’s ordination and his 10th anniversary as a pastor at my church, the assistant pastor asked everyone in the congregation to reach out their hands in blessing to him as the assistant pastor played over it.

Both instances proved to be particularly emotional for me as I considered the passage of time and what God was doing in the lives of my niece and my pastor. And the mirror events recalled for me the calling that we all have to be agents of blessing in this world.

Continue reading →