Book 5 - The Road to Jerusalem

“Let Go and Let God” – Seeking Jerusalem – Day 47

I would agree that being filled with the Holy Spirit is based on faith, hope and love (as we have said before) and that it results in peace and joy which are the first fruits of our new relationship with God.  Of course this is a peace that passes all understanding and a joy that knows no bounds.  Neither concept can be defined in worldly terms but only in extraordinary terms to describe the life in the Spirit.  There is definitely an “emotional” or subjective aspect to life in the Spirit.  But there is something more to it than that.

Book 5 - The Road to Jerusalem

“The Lost Art of Repentance” – Seeking Jerusalem – Day 48

I like the title of this post. It tells me that Repentance is an Art form that has been lost.  People don’t really repent much these days and the little that they do is superficial and difficult. Like an adult still making stick men with crayons, we have lost the nuances, the discipline but most of all the art of a life of repentance.

I mean, have you ever put the idea of repentance and rest together in the same sentence?  God does. Jesus says that his yoke is easy and his burden is light.  Especially in comparison with the Pharisees of his day who burdened people with a moral code almost impossible to maintain.

Book 5 - The Road to Jerusalem

“The Fellowship of the Cross” – Seeking Jerusalem – Day 49

Ours is not the Fellowship of the Ring but, rather, the Fellowship of the Cross.  We, too, have a purpose to work together in this redemptive emergency for the salvation of the world.  Yes, there will be individual temptations and trials but, in the context of the relationships forged under trying circumstances, there is also the possibility of redemption and true friendships that will last a lifetime.

Or is that only a fantasy of mine?

It’s easy to write beautiful words to describe the fellowship of the cross, the unity of the church, the friendships forged in this band of brothers and sisters following Jesus on the Road to Jerusalem.  But is it true?  Not so sure.

Book 5 - The Road to Jerusalem

“Wrestling with God” – Seeking Jerusalem – Day 44

When I first heard that the name “Israel” meant “he who struggles with God,” I was a bit surprised.  Why would God give that name to his people?  Why would he want to be known as a God with whom His people wrestle?  It seemed strange to me at first.

After all, God set this situation up in the life of Jacob.  He came to wrestle with Jacob not the other way around.  Jacob was trying to prepare for his encounter with his brother Esau the next day.  He had sent his family and goods over the Jabbok river and he stayed behind alone….to pray.

Book 5 - The Road to Jerusalem

“The Road to Jerusalem” – Seeking Jerusalem – Day 50

When my daughter was 12 years old, she was full of curiosity. And she would ask very good questions too. But she didn’t always like the answers.

“Why is God hiding?” she would ask. “Why doesn’t he protect me from hurting myself. Doesn´t he love me?” “If God loves the whole world, why doesn’t he just get rid of hell and let everyone go to heaven?” Those were the good questions.

But she had other questions as well. “Who was Cain’s wife?” “Who created God?” and “What is heaven like?”

Obviously, we had a lot of talks together coming home from school, walking in the park, sitting in my office.

Book 5 - The Road to Jerusalem

“Hanna’s Secret” – Seeking Jerusalem – Day 46

Do you remember the book called The Secret by Rhonda Byrne that they also made a movie out of? It was really popular for a while and promoted what they called The Law of Attraction which claims that thinking positively about something can make it appear in your life. A dubious idea at best. It was clothed with some religious language (ask, believe, and receive) and fits well into the Prosperity Gospel that has swept through the American churches in recent years. It sold 20 million copies at least and was translated into more than 50 languages. Rhonda Byrne certainly attracted a lot of money and fame into her life.

Book 5 - The Road to Jerusalem

“The Helper” – Seeking Jerusalem – Day 45

Frederick Buechner, in his book Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy and Fairy Tale, tells us that the world of the gospel is “a world of magic and mystery, of deep darkness and flickering starlight It is a world where terrible things happen and wonderful things too It is a world where goodness is pitted against evil, love against hate, order against chaos, in a great struggle where often it is hard to be sure who belongs to which side because appearances are endlessly deceptive. Yet for all its confusion and wildness, it is a world where the battle goes ultimately to the good, who live happily every after….

That is the fairy tale of the Gospel with, of course, one crucial difference from all other fairy tales, which is that the claim made for it is that it is true, that it not only happened once upon a time but has kept on happening ever since and is happening still” (quoted in The Sacred Romance p. 46).

Book 5 - The Road to Jerusalem

“Hosea and Gomer” – Seeking Jerusalem – Day 43

Who knows how Hosea might have breached the subject of marriage to Gomer? You have to take into account the culture, the fact that he was known as a prophet of God, and the fact that she was a loose woman. Talk about a rebound.

Apparently, she was married before and committed adultery and had children by her other lovers. The timeline isn’t all that clear. The storyline is a bit confusing but something strange was going on.

First of all, are you kidding me? God tells his prophet to go marry an adulterous woman who has children out of wedlock. Talk about the lowest of the low. The Pharisees gave Jesus a hard time for letting a prostitute wash his feet with anointing oil just before his death in Jerusalem. He should have known what kind of woman she was.

Preposterous. Ridiculous. God told you to do what? God would never do that. I’m certain of it. Yeah, right.

Book 5 - The Road to Jerusalem

“The Sweet Spot” – Seeking Jerusalem – Day 42

I remember the early years of Bible College when I was surrounded by other young Christian students and we studied and prayed and discussed and argued to our heart’s content. We went on Mission trips together. We sang songs with our guitars, the Sound of Silence right along with Amazing Grace and Hallelujah. We ate pizza and watched movies but most of all we talked about the reality of God. It was great.

Book 5 - The Road to Jerusalem

“The Sanctification Gap” – Seeking Jerusalem – Day 41

When I was a young pastor, full of ideals, studying at a great seminary, wondering what the Lord had in store for me, I used to pray that God would show me where the fighting was the fiercest, the issues essential, where lives were being transformed, and put me right there in the middle of it. It took me a while to understand that all that came from arrogance and that I was woefully unprepared for ministry, that I was educated far beyond my obedience, that I was easy prey for the schemes of the Devil.