Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Mike's Psalm 10: The Simplified Version

Why are you hiding, so far away, God?
Some people: brag about evil desires, praise greed, curse YHWH,
oppress the poor, pour scorn on their opponents.
These people - Evil!

They are too proud to seek God.
They reckon God is dead.
The irony is: they are successful!! (so far, that is!)

Still sucks though!

Them - they are like lions the way they pounce on their victims.
It's survival of the fittest for those guys.
The helpless and innocent suffer 'cause of them.

They don't see though what's coming for them though, do they God?
Your noting it down.
You, after all, are with orphans, widows, and the weak.

So, you'll bring justice. It's coming.

And your kingdom will come, as you taught us to pray

On earth,

as it is in heaven.

Chrissy's Day ?: Biology vs Promises

Okay. Here goes.

Romans 9: 1-17

Romans 9 starts off by with Paul saying he is gutted that the Jews have gone so wrong with God. But thats not God's fault, he says. God's people are defined by his promise not biology. God demonstrated this when he turned Esau and Jacob's birthright's upside down.

But we shouldn't deduce that God is unfair (I admit, that was my first reaction when I read this). God is mercy and compassion - he created it and defines it.


Okay, finally after a long time of having this sitting in the back of my mind. Ignoring it cause I didn't understand. I think I'm getting a little clarity on some of it. Woop woop!

I think Paul is explaining that God's been doing some tricky stuff so that people (Jews in particular) can't claim that they have saved themselves. He's flipping things around and standing stuff on it's head. God's trying to say - It's not about biology or anything else that you might to - it's about me!

The example he gives is Jacob and Esau. God switched their birthrights. The reason he did this was to show that his purpose is based on his decisions not on anything that people do. As verse 11 says "not because of works but because of him who calls".

Another reason for switching the birthrights is to forshadow that the 'younger kid' would get the goods from God. That's us Gentiles! God decided to let us in the door and bless us.

It's helpful to look forward to chapter 11 to help understand this. The Message version talks about the Jews walking out the door and the Gentiles walking in:

11-12 The next question is, "Are they down for the count? Are they out of this for good?" And the answer is a clear-cut No. Ironically when they walked out, they left the door open and the outsiders walked in. But the next thing you know, the Jews were starting to wonder if perhaps they had walked out on a good thing. Now, if their leaving triggered this worldwide coming of non-Jewish outsiders to God's kingdom, just imagine the effect of their coming back! What a homecoming!
So yeah, I'm beginning to understand a bit more of this :) Yay!


Heavenly Father,

Thank you for helping me to understand this passage.
Thank you for the enlightenment you've given me today.

Please continue to whisper gently in my ear,
Please keep guiding me and teaching me.

I want to be your servant, your vessel.


Monday, 29 March 2010

Mike's Day ?: Psalm 9

Paraphrase and summary of Psalm 9:

I will sing and praise God,
my enemies will turn back because of you - you will destroy them.

The LORD reigns - he governs and judges justly, and never forakes those who seek after him
Sing praise to him, because he does not ignore the cry of the afflicted.

O LORD see how my enemies persecute me! Rescue me! that I may declare your praise
The nations dig their own graves.

The LORD is known for justice, the wicked entrap themselves
Wicked nations will perish
But The needy or afflicted will not be forgotten.

Arise O LORD - let the nations know they are but men.

(A lovely psalm, reminding us of God's justice and mercy)

Day ?: Romans 9

I got stuck on Romans 9. It was too hard so I gave up on the whole project. Slack, lazy, selfish.

So Romans 9. It's a really confusing passage. I can vaguely follow it until it starts talking about election. As a stand alone chapter it just doesn't make sense. But put together with the next few chapters Paul's argument starts to come together. So I've been reading chapters 9-11, struggling through (but mostly struggling with myself). I'll try to write something tomorrow.


Heavenly father,

I'm struggling.
I'm struggling with this passage.
I'm struggling with life at the moment.

Holy Spirit, hear my groans, translate them into God-speak and take them to our Lord.

Please help me to understand this passage of Romans.
Discipline me. Make me sit down and do some study tomorrow.

I want to be your servant, your vessel.


Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Chrissy's Day 28: Love, love, love

Reflection on Romans 8: 28-39

I was a bit scared of this passage. It's such a big important one. Full of famous lines and verses.

Strangely I sometimes find that the most familiar verses are the most unfamiliar... I hear them so often that they lose their meaning and I struggle to understand them.

So I'm just going to look at my summary from yesterday and reflect on that.

To me, this passage is all about love.

God didn't just let his son die. He sent his son to die. For us. Thats love.

And if he loved us enough to do that, then he'll surely fight off any baddies that come our way. Baddies like persecution, famine, demons, the future and well, anything you can think of really.

Jesus is interceding for us! Intercede means 'to plead on another's behalf'. How cool is that. I have this picture of Jesus sitting at the right hand of God the Father, whispering in his ear "oh, this one's a keeper Dad, go easy, forgive her, let her share in your glory".

Perhaps a little irreverent...

I have to admit I am steering clear of all the election/predestination/chosen ones stuff. That scares me a little. I don't know enough about it and frankly don't really want to. The idea that God has chosen just a few people doesn't sit well with me so I'd rather be ignorant. I know that if I start delving in to that area my little brain might start exploding. Lazy? Perhaps. Probably.


Heavenly Father,

Thank you for your love.
Thank you for expressing it in such an amazing way!
Please keep fighting off the baddies for me. Please stick by me even when I invite the baddies in to my life.

Show me today how I can be more faithful to you and carry out the tasks you'd have me do.

I want to be your servant, your vessel.



Monday, 15 March 2010

Chrissy's Day 27: Nothing can separate us from the love of God

Summary of Romans 8:28-29

We can feel certain that God will work our lives into something good.

God already knew us, and he designed us to become like Jesus. And then he called us by name, he made us right with himself and will complete the work begun in us and bring us in to his glory.

If God did all this for us - he even sent his own son to die! - then how can we lose? Who would argue with us? Jesus died and rose again for us, and he is now interceding for us.

So can anything separate us from the love of God? Trouble? Persecution? Famine? Suffering etc?

No, nothing. Nothing spiritual or physical. Not even life or death. Not even time.

Nothing can separate us from the love of God.


Dear God,
Thank you that there is nothing that can make you stop loving me.
You are so faithful! I want to be faithful too.
Please help me to be faithful this week. Especially with this lenten project.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Chrissy's Day 23: Preggo!

Summary of Romans 8:18-27

When I think about the glory that is to come, I don't even bother worrying about the sufferings we're facing now. That glory is so great, that every part of nature is eagerly awaiting it. Waiting for the time when we will be fully revealed as God's children.

Everything on earth was cursed by God, and so creation too waits for the time when it will be free from death and decay along with God's children.

It's been like childbirth, the earth has been groaning with 'labour pains'. And we groan too, waiting for our birth as God's adopted children.

We are saved by hope. (We must understand that we can't hope for something we already have, it has to be for something we don't yet have.) And we wait patiently in hope.

The Holy Spirit helps us when we are weak. We don't know what to pray for, and so the Holy Spirit does it for us. When words cannot express things properly, the Holy Spirit groans for us and God understands.


Having given birth in the not too distant past, I feel drawn to this passage. I should be able to relate.

Actually, I'm remembering back to when I was pregnant... I remember reading this passage and talking to Mike about it. I thought "how strange that a man (Paul) would think of childbirth as a way to describe something. And a single man at that." It made me wonder about how different his culture was from ours. Perhaps he understood labour more than most single lads over here do? Perhaps he saw is mother/sister/aunty/neighbour in labour? Who knows.


I'm loving the old Message version again. Verses 22-25:

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it's not only around us; it's within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We're also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don't see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.
Loving that idea of diminishing. Nope, I know that the longer you wait for your baby to be born the bigger that bump gets and the greater your desire to meet your wee one and the more excited you get.

I'm not sure if I really feel that way about our future deliverance. To be honest, I think the longer I wait the more blase I get. That takes me back to what I was saying at the beginning of Lent. I don't think I really get it.


Dear Lord,

I want to be excited about the future glory.
I want to expectantly await the time when I fully become your adopted daughter.

Please help me to understand.

I want to be your servant, your vessel.



Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Chrissy's Day 22: Kill off the bad stuff

Summary of Romans 8:1-17

Those who belong to Jesus cannot be condemned! The power of the life-giving spirit has freed you from the power of sin. The law could not save us because of our sinful nature. So God did it. His son came in a body just like ours. Jesus declared an end to sin's control over us. He satisfied the law's need for a sacrifice.

If you are controlled by sin, you think about sinful things, and that leads to death. But if you are controlled by the Holy Spirit then you think about good things, and that leads to life.  Those who are still under the control of sin can never please God.

But listen! You are no longer controlled by sin! You have the Holy Spirit living in you. Remember how God raised Jesus to life? The Holy Spirit will do the same in you!

This means, you don't have to do what your sinful nature tells you to. Instead, every day, kill off those evil desires with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Then you'll really live forever! You'll be a child of God! Because the true children of God are those who let God's Spirit lead them.

As God's children we'll experience Jesus' glory and sufferings.


I've been AWOL for a week. Busy etc etc but to be honest I've been sulking. I've been angry and annoyed at God. I've been struggling a bit with Adele and begging God for help. But he hasn't seemed to help. At least not in the way I've been wanting him to. So I've been grumpy and my way of punishing God was to stop doing the lenten project. Petty huh?

Stupid. I think that's the word. Why do I think I can punish God? And why do I think that it will make me feel better? It's some pathetic little power play by me. Me trying to exert control over my own life and show God who's really boss. I'm not really that smart am I?

So I'm looking at verse 9 of this passage. "You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature." I sure feel like I am. And it feels like way to hard to not be controlled by my sinful nature - it's such a strong force and I feel overwhelmed by it.

I'm also pondering verse 13. This is from the Amplified Bible:

For if you live according to [the dictates of] the flesh, you will surely die. But if through the power of the [Holy] Spirit you are [habitually] putting to death (making extinct, deadening) the [evil] deeds prompted by the body, you shall [really and genuinely] live forever.
To me this sounds like: with the help of the Holy Spirit, make a habit of killing off the bad stuff that the sinful part of you wants you to do.

Now that sounds more do-able. It's an every day thing. Not just once off, wave your wand 'bing!' now you're a goodie and you'll never want to do dumb stuff again. No, instead it is every day, looking at your life and choosing to deaden the things that don't please God. But the best part is I don't have to do it alone by my own strength! I'll do it by the strength and wisdom and power (love that word) of the Holy Spirit.

This is what I haven't been doing this past week...

Dear God,

I come to you humbled and sinful.
I've been rebelling this week. Trying to exert my puny authority. Trying to teach you a lesson.

I'm sorry. It was stupid. Please forgive me.

Help me to put to death my sinful desires. Please remind me that I need to do this every day.
I want you to control me.

I want to be your servant, your vessel.



Thursday, 4 March 2010

Chrissy's Day 16: The law was just a band-aid

Romans 8:1-17

I think I'll take a couple of days to do this one. Had a rough day - didn't even manage to find time for a shower... But I've had a good read of this one and Mike and I have talked about it quite a bit so I'll jot down some of my initial thoughts.


I like this from The Message.

"The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it."
So what did God do to heal it?
"He (God) didn't deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant... he personally took on the human condition... to set it right once and for all."
And so, "there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus".

But it gets better. Not only are we free from condemnation, but we are God's children!
"God's Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what's coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance!"
Dear Lord,

Thank you for being a 'hands-on' father.
Thank you for getting your hands (and feet and head and shoulders and...) dirty when you needed too.

Lord, what an amazing thing to read about who I really am. I am your daughter (I struggle to believe this - Lord help my unbelief). I am your heir.

Please continue to teach me through the book of Romans.
And God, please show me how I can start to change my life and serve you because of what I am learning.

I want to be your servant, your vessel.



Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Chrissy's Day 15: "For what I want to do I do not do"

Summary of Romans 7:13-25

So, is even the good law bad? Nope!

Sin hid inside the law so that it could really wreak havoc and really be shown up for what is it - sin.

The law is spiritual but I am just flesh and blood. I am completely bewildered by the stuff I do. I don't do the things I want to do. Instead I do the things I don't want to do! I do this even though I think the law is great and want to follow it!

But actually, it's got to the point where it isn't me that is doing the bad things it is the sin that lives inside me.

Who will save me?



A bit of a crazy passage this one. You can totally feel Paul's torment (and really relate to it). He wants to be a good guy but even when he tries really really hard, he trips up and does something stupid or fails to carry through with his good plans.

Oh, how familiar is that. How often have I made a resolution (how about this one - blog everyday for 46 days!) and although I want to keep it, that sin that lives inside me stops me from fulfilling my promise as well as I'd like to.

But to me, verses 24 & 25 has the bit we should be focusing on.

"... Is there no one who can do anything for me?... The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does."
Thinking back over the messages from the last few days, I'm thinking that maybe we shouldn't even bother with worrying about what we do or don't do or want to do or don't want to do. Because Jesus has taken care of it. 

We have died to sin - we are free from it's clutches. We don't have to worry about it anymore. It has no power over us. We are alive in righteousness!

Hallelujah! God is good.

So why doesn't it feel like I'm free?


Dear God,

I can so relate to what Paul is saying in this passage about wanting to be good but being unable to.
When I find myself in a pickle over this, please remind me that you have defeated sin.
I want you keep my eyes on you, not sin, and not myself. I want you to be my vision.

Keep teaching me Lord cause I am still so confused.

I want to be your servant, your vessel.


Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Chrissy's Day 14:

Summary of Romans 7:1-12

You guys know the law. So you know that law only has authority while you're alive.

A good example is marriage. As long as a woman's husband is alive, she has to obey the laws concerning marriage. If she has an affair, she is an adultress. But when he dies - she's free!

It's the same with us and sin. Now that we have died to sin, we are free from the law. We're free to live a new life of the Spirit.

So what then - is the law sinful? Of course not.

Infact, if there was no law we wouldn't have a clear understanding of what sin is. Example: if the law didn't say "don't covet" I wouldn't have known what it was.

The thing is, the law started out as something really good but, sin got hold of the law and perverted it. Sin made it in to something to tempt me. The very law that was meant to bring me life, brought me death!

The law itself is great. It's holy and righteous and good.


I'm getting in quite a pickle here. I'm all tangled up in sin and law and life and death. (The concepts of it!) In this passage it seems like everything is alive then it dies then it comes alive again!

We really see that sin is a force in this passage. Mike and I talked about this the other day when I was complaining that I thought sin had to be 'bigger' than my individual bad deeds. We talked about how sin seems to be a living breathing force with a mind of it's own.

And we certainly see that here. Listen to this language, it sounds like a person.

" a hold on me and aroused and stimulated all kinds of forbidden desires."
"...beguiled and entrapped and cheated me..."
So sin is alive - or is it?

Verse 8 says "For without the Law sin is dead". The Amplified version of the bible expands on the idea of death by saying "the sense of it is inactive and a lifeless thing".

Eh? How can sin be so active and alive sometimes but inactive and lifeless at other times?

Verse 9 "but when the commandment came, sin sprung to life".

So it seems that it is the law that gives sin life. It is the law that makes sin active.

Oh dear, and now Paul is living and dying... v9 "sin sprang to life and I died."

I'm not really sure Paul made anything clearer here - my head feels more muddy than when I started. Perhaps all will be clear tomorrow...


Your word is so confusing. Why couldn't it be plainer?
It makes me wonder how people with less education than me manage to read and understand your word.

I guess the important thing is that you speak to our hearts and illuminate your word to us.
Please speak to my heart. Please illuminate your word to me.

Thank you for the journey I'm on. Thanks for what you're trying to teach me about sin.

I want to be your servant, your vessel.



Monday, 1 March 2010

Mike's Day 13: Psalm 8

Quick Summary: The name of God is majestic. His Glory is above the Heavens. When I look up and see: Sky, stars, moon, I think "Majestic!" How can we compare to all this? What is it, that you care for us? You made us to have dominion over all this? Unbelievable!

This Psalm speaks about human dignity and human responsibility, surely two attributes which go together, feeding into and giving life to the other. Intertwined with both dignity and responsibility is the glory of YHWH. YHWH, majestic and enthroned above the heavens, ensures both.

As the early Christians read the Psalms, Psalm 8 stood out as being particular in referring to Christ Jesus, the one made a little lower than the angels yet now crowned in glory and honour (see Hebrews 2:6-8 and 1 Cor 15:27).

Chrissy's Day 13: Slavery

Summary of Romans 6:15-23

So should we think that sin doesn't matter because Grace will take care of us? No! If you are a slave, you're a slave. You can be a slave to badness or be free in goodness.

Thanks to God cause you've been set free from badness and can live in goodness. Death was the only benefit of badness but the benefit of goodness is real life, forever-life in Jesus.


I've made up some words today - badness and forever-life. I'm just trying to put Romans in to my own words to help me to process it.

I'm pondering the meaning of slavery. What does it mean to be a slave to sin? What does it mean in light of the things I was blogging about yesterday - the idea of corporate sin.

Actually, I think perhaps slavery makes more sense when thought of corporately. If corporate sin is tied to culture as I suggested yesterday it is easy to see how one becomes bonded to it. Culture is nigh on impossible to escape. Don't you find that? Even the parts of our own culture that we dislike we struggle to break free from.

Example... hmmm... theoretically, I dislike consumerism and materialism (or as our minister Garry would say, the idol of More). I'd like to live a simple and unfettered life but I'd also really like to tell you all about the gorgeous new duvet cover I got for my birthday... But more than that, I perpetuate the situation by encouraging others to be materialistic like me. I don't know anyone who has broken free from materialism except perhaps people who live away from other society like the Amish or some Catholic nuns. And somehow I don't think that's what God had in mind for us.

Given all that, what does Paul mean that we can be set free from slavery to sin? I guess the question is - what does the Christian life look like? And to rephrase that to include the corporate concept - what does the Christian community look like?


Dear God,

I have so many questions.
But I think that you don't mind it when I ask questions - thanks for that! Thank you for understanding and accepting my confusion and misunderstanding.

Please help me to understand what the christian community and life should look like.
Please help me to understand what it means to be free.

Thanks for everything you've taught me so far this lent.

I want to be your servant, your vessel.



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