How Deep and Long and Wide

How Deep and Long and Wide

On Sunday morning, February 5, 2012, I let my dog outside and noticed a jet exhaust line stretched out as far as the east is from the west. Other planes in the air had short exhaust tails that dissipated quickly. I thought—what kind of plane makes that long a line? A half hour later, the line was still there.

Later in the day, another jet line crossed the valley—this time north to south. Both lines, the same day. Such a curious thing! I wondered about it, because that particular day, I was studying Zechariah 2. I also read Matthew Henry’s Commentary to help me understand such a mystical Old Testament book. What struck me was this:

Hand holds a thick rope. On a white background.Zechariah 2: 1-4, talks about a man with a measuring line in his hands…

Then I looked up, and there before me was a man with a measuring line in his hand. I asked, “Where are you going?” He answered me, “To measure Jerusalem, to find out how wide and how long it is.” While the angel who was speaking to me was leaving, another angel came to meet him and said to him: “Run, tell that young man, ‘Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of people and animals in it. And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will be its glory within.’” (NIV)

Jesus, the Master Builder, is building room for multitudes. He is drawing up the plans and measuring out the perimeters for the “church”—how long and how wide (From Matthew Henry’s Commentary). The jet streams I saw in the sky completely stirred me. Perhaps God was saying something over our valley through these verses.

This background information has a purpose. Stay with me…wait for it!Continue reading

No Sparrow Unnoticed

No Sparrow Unnoticed

I was in Budapest two weeks ago. Travel generally transports one into the drama and glories of ages past, but I had a moving spiritual experience that only God could’ve orchestrated. On the blue Danube River that separates “Buda” from “Pest” – two cities, now one – there is a memorial to the Jews who died in the very last days of World War II.

Danube ShoesIt is called, Shoes On The Danube Bank.

wallenberg

Raoul Wallenberg

 

 

 

In July 1944, Raoul Wallenberg, of Schindler’s List fame, came to Budapest as Secretary of the Swedish Foreign Ministry with a plan to save as many Jews as possible. He created thousands of Swedish identity documents for the Jews, protecting them from Nazi deportation. He is credited with ultimately saving as many as 100,000 people.

Meanwhile, the Nazi Party had handed over their power to Hungarian fascists known as the Arrow Cross party. Hungary had initially sided with Germany. On the night of January 8, 1945, Arrow Cross militia marched thousands of Jews to the Danube in Budapest to be shot. The shoes—left behind—brought reality to the human genocide. Though it took place 70 years ago—the terror felt palpable. The shoes, now bronze replicas, are a permanent memorial. Our guides said 600,000 Hungarian Jews were killed in the last five months of the war. The Soviet Red Army would liberate the city only a few weeks after the Danube slaughter.

Memorial Plaque ShoesAt the memorial, I closed my eyes. Intense compassion stirred me down to my toes. Even now as I write this, my eyes are filling with tears.

Where were you God?

To my surprise, a scene unfolded on the screen of my mind: I saw the mass of Jewish people, young and old, male and female, trudging toward the river. Fascist solders flanked them on each side. The people had to know what was about to happen.

But so did God.

Angels vastly outnumbered the soldiers on each side and followed along with the death march. As the people neared the river’s edge, angels passed through the militia as if the soldiers were ghosts.Continue reading

All In

All In

Jesus wasn’t afraid to be graphic. When driving home a major point, He used strong metaphors—like amputating hands or plucking out eyes if they lead you astray.

Jesus offended people in his first lesson on communion, saying they’d have to drink His blood and eat His flesh. (John 6)

Jesus on the crossAnd He’s willing to go way beyond metaphors when everything is at stake. His crucifixion—a most violent death—was necessary to resolve our separation from God.

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No mild mannered version of Jesus will do.

What’s the underlying message? What is He saying with such bold language and sacrificial actions?

“I want you all in.

And so the question is on the table—“Are you?”

It starts by having a real relationship with God. You can’t settle for religious activity. Your internal life has to match your external life. In the words of James Ryle, you have to grow to the point where you have nothing to fear, nothing to hide, nothing to prove, and nothing to lose. And you have to let God be God—refusing to shape Him into the modern day image of what seems socially acceptable.

God is God, and we are not. Scripture is pretty graphic when we don’t get that right.

“Is the axe to boast itself over the one who chops with it?

Is the saw to exalt itself over the one who wields it?

That would be like a club wielding those who lift it,

Or like a rod lifting him who is not wood.

Therefore the Lord, the God of hosts,

Will send a wasting disease among his stout warriors;

burning reeds. fireAnd under his glory a fire will be kindled like a burning flame.

And the light of Israel will become a fire and his Holy One a flame,

And it will burn and devour his thorns and his briars in a single day.

And He will destroy the glory of his forest

And of his fruitful garden, both soul and body,

And it will be as when a sick man wastes away.

And the rest of the trees of his forest will be so small in number

That a child could write them down.”

–Isaiah 10:15-19 (NASB)

In other words, Jesus is the head, and we are not. We are the body. All this is to prepare you for a startling and disturbing dream I had one night.Continue reading