February 14, 2016

Leaving Our Egypt

Posted in Faithfulness of God, Teaching tagged , , , , , , , , , at 1:27 pm by tclickenger

As I am sure most posts start, this has been on my mind for a few weeks now.  Percolating I guess.  The topic of this post is the Hebrew word “mitzraim.”  This is a very obscure topic among us non-Jewish people and without intentionally searching out the topic the chances of encountering it are fairly remote.  So it has been surprising to me that information about “mitzraim” has been coming to me from sources consistently all this week.

One of the insights came to me through a video a friend of mine shared on Facebook.  The video was of a Jewish rabbi, Dr. Abraham Twerski (who is also a practicing psychologist specializing in addictions), describing how lobsters grow.  It is a great clip and a fantastic introduction to this blog.  I invite you to take a look then come back and continue reading.

http://www.jinsider.com/videos/vid/393-rabbi-dr-abraham-twerski/7895-responding-to-stress.html#7895

That thing that the lobster feels is “mitzraim.”  What mitzraim means is constriction or tightness.  The root of the word means constriction but it can also mean distress as it is translated in most of our English translations in this verse,

Psalm 118:5, “From the distress (or constriction: hametzar – singular version of mitzraim) I called to God, He answered me in divine spaciousness.”

When we feel severe distress we often feel as though our own chest is constricting our heart. I believe this is the feeling that David is describing in this psalm. I believe David understood the spiritual condition of constrictions in our soul. I believe he also understood the contrasting condition brought by God’s abiding presence in our life, divine spaciousness.

The interesting thing about “mitzraim” is that it also means Egypt.  This adds a whole new dimension to the Exodus story. With this new dimension the story is no longer just about the children of Israel, but is now also a story about you and me.  Since we live in a free and democratic society it is hard to identify ourselves with slavery, even harder to believe that, apart from God’s intervention, we are in fact a slave.  Just as Jesus told us.

John 8:34 NIV — Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”

A slave to the demands of our flesh, the twisted desires of our soul and the influences of dark spiritual forces.  They straight-jacket us while we are in complete oblivion to the confinement our captors have put us in.  It sounds illogical, we become slaves by doing what we feel like doing when we feel like doing it with whoever we feel like doing it with.  That sound like freedom doesn’t it?  Then contrast that with what the Bible says, that we should obey, do this, don’t do that, it sounds very restrictive. Sound absurd doesn’t it. 

In fact, this thinking is captured well in a song from my youth. Let me share some of the lines from it. 

Living easy, living free

Season ticket on a one-way ride

Asking nothing, leave me be

Taking everything in my stride

Don’t need reason, don’t need rhyme

Ain’t nothing I would rather do

Going down, party time

My friends are gonna be there too

In case you didn’t recognize those lyrics, they’re from the song titled “Highway to hell” by the band AC/DC. 

But even as the song tells you, following your own whim and way is not the road to freedom. Not physical freedom or spiritual freedom. Those who have addictions are slaves to those addictions and it constricts the enjoyment of their life. Anyone who indulges in being lazy become enslaved by laziness and it limits their opportunities in life. Anyone who indulges in gossip become addicted to listening to and spreading gossip. It then restricts their relationships because they become know to be untrustworthy and disloyal. I could go on but ultimately, living life doing what you want when you want is the road to a torturous confinement. 

True freedom requires discipline and boundaries. That’s why God gives us His word, his instruction, to instruct us in how to live our life  in freedom. To show us where the boundaries are. That’s where I’ll continue on my next post in this series. 

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March 20, 2011

Does God Know What is Everyone’s Heart

Posted in Faithfulness of God tagged , , , , , , , , , at 10:17 pm by tclickenger

Gold Key, weighing one kilogram is used to acc...

Image via Wikipedia

That is one of the many questions that a skeptic poses to point out what they believe are contradictions in the bible.  So let’s look at their view-point.  On the one hand, the Word says He does:

Acts 1:24, “And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men.”  Psalm 44:21, “He knoweth the secrets of the heart.”  Psalm 139:2-3, “Thou knowest my down-sitting and mine up-rising; thou understands my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.”

Then on the other hand they believe His Word says that He doesn’t:

Deuteronomy 8:2, “And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.”  Deuteronomy 13:3, “For the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your soul.”  .2 Chronicles 32:31, “God left him [Hezekiah], to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.”

The simple answer to this question is, yes, He does know everyone’s heart.  If you will notice, the passages that mention “to know” or “to prove” are all attached to a trial.  God “proves” the hearts of His people in the same way we prove a precious metal.

We place the metal over a fire (trial), the metal becomes molten, we find the impurities within the metal, we draw off the impurities and the essence of that which is precious is made more pure.

May we all thank God for the skeptic.  Who poses hard questions that we cannot answer using our own intellect.  And, thank God for the hard and difficult times.  Through both, we must depend on God to give us His wisdom, His understanding, His strength, His endurance and our humility and trust.  Both our faith and His wisdom are made more pure within us and our essence, our character, is made more precious than before.

God Bless you all, Through Christ I can love you all.

March 19, 2010

Faithful to His Word

Posted in Faithfulness of God tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 6:28 am by tclickenger

Amazing Grace

Image by jasohill via Flickr

One of my brothers in faith was describing an experience that he had while he was fallen away from God. My brother, we’ll call him “Allen” and two of his “friends” were drunk one night. At one point in the evening they began singing country music songs. After a while, two of them began singing “Amazing Grace.” One of them left the room because he didn’t want to hear it. Allen and his friend ended the song sobbing like babies, talking about how wrong they were to be living the lives that they were living.

While Allen was telling this story it reminded me of a passage of scripture, Psalm 22:3 “You are Holy, You dwell among the praises of Your people.” While these boys were in their intoxicated state, they began singing praises of God and He showed up, lovingly reminding them of their need to be right with Him.

This is just so wonderful to me. That even when were rolling in the pit of mud of our despair and corruption, God will do what his word says He will do. God will honor his word even when we are not in an honorable condition or are not being honorable to Him. How many men or women of this world can you say that about? God is good all the time.