Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Tag: relationship with God

Praying in the Woods

I left the house, most likely barefoot, and started walking through the woods. There was a path that had been worn in the dirt from all the other times I had walked this path. It is what I did when I needed to clear my head, ponder something, or escape from the stressors of teenage life. I would later have the epiphany that what was really happening was prayer. I was communing with the Creator.

There was an old stump by the creek where I would go and sit and think . . . . .I mean, pray.

Source: http://www.wildfrogphotography.com

Source: http://www.wildfrogphotography.com

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He is Strong

Read Romans 5:1-11.

Lent Ponderings - jasoncstanley.comGod created the world and declared that it was good. God created humanity in the image of God and declared that it is good! But sin entered the sin and corrupted, marred, and distorted the image of God within humanity. As a result, we are imperfect, we are infected with sin.

We are weak, but as the children’s song goes, Jesus is strong.

Paul explains to us that Jesus did not die for those who are good or perfect. Jesus died for those who messed-up and screwed-up. Jesus died for the weak. Jesus died for those who fail and fall. Jesus died for those who have fallen short of the glory of God.

That would be you and me.

Because the image of God within each of us has been marred, corrupted, and distorted by sin, it has affected our relationship with God. Christ’s death and resurrection was so that we could be reconciled to God through Jesus (Roms. 5:10).

Traditionally we give up something during Lent to focus on our relationship with God. Some choose to add a spiritual discipline or a new practice. Either way, the season of Lent beckons us to reflect on our relationship with God. Where are we in our faith? In what ways are we weak? How has Jesus been strong when we have been weak? How have you encountered grace?

 

The Ten: I Am Your God

 God spoke all these words:

I am God, your God,
    who brought you out of the land of Egypt,
    out of a life of slavery.

No other gods, only me.

(Exodus 20:1-3, the Message)

The Ten - jasoncstanley.comIn these beginning words of what we call the Ten Commandments, God is reminding the Israelites of a few important things. First that God delivered them from the bondage of slavery. At this point of the Exodus story, the Israelites have been wandering in the desert. God has provided for them all along the way, but that does not stop the people from complaining.

More importantly, God wants to be in relationship with God’s people. Which may be why there is an element of obedience implied here. To obey God is to affirm God’s desire to be in relationship with us.

God also reminds the Israelites that they should not worship other gods. Have you ever noticed some of the caution warnings on products? Some are pretty bizarre. For example, on a washing machine, the label reads, “DO NOT put any person in this washer.” Or on Apple’s website, “Do not eat iPod shuffle.” Or on a chainsaw, “Do not hold the wrong end of the chainsaw.” We are pretty certain that someone did that  bizarre thing that warranted the warning label.

The same is true here. The first commandment to only worship God is because the Israelites at the time were prone to worship other gods. While the Abrahamic faiths are monotheist, the Israelites lived in a time and culture of polytheism. The worshiping of multiple gods was the norm. And, you might imagine a number of them being tempted to worship multiple gods as they wandered through the wilderness.

The polytheist gods were like a catalogue of gods. You could browse the list and find what you were in need of. For example, if you needed help in areas of fertility, you would worship to god Baal. Or if there were issues of pregnancy in your marriage, you may worship the goddess Kathirat.

God is asking for loyalty in the midst of the relationship which God has entered in with God’s people. Martin Luther in his Catechism says that to have no other gods before Yahweh is to fear, love, and trust God in all things and in all ways. What might that look like? The other nine commandments offer a glimpse.

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