a ”king of queens” theology lesson…

One of my favorite mindless sitcoms is “The King of Queens.” Well, I wish I could say that I have a clip for you to watch, but I don’t. (I am beginning to understand my need for a lesson in iMovie…) So I will just have to rely on your possible similar fondness for the show. I was watching a rerun yesterday. It was the episode where Arthur, Carrie’s live-in father, is getting married. Doug has been severely hurt because he just found out Carrie has been lying to him about a very important issue. There is a scene where Doug is riding in the car with the Jewish rabbi who is officiating the wedding, and Doug mentions divorce. The rabbi chimes in and the following conversation takes place:

Rabbi: “I certainly understand why you’re upset, but I also know that God believes in forgiveness.”

Doug: “Yeah…well…is that just your God or any God?”

Rabbi: “Do you think you and I have different Gods?”

Doug: “No, no, no, no, no…I mean…yeah…only ’cause my God is Jesus…uh, but from what I understand my God is the Son of your God, so I’m sure they’re on very good terms. They probably see each other all the time–holidays, family functions…”

Obviously Doug’s delivery of the above rhetoric is 90% of the hilarity, but what I was most struck with was the ABSOLUTELY CORRECT theology expressed right there!

If you are a Christian, you worship a different God than a Jewish person. That may seem confusing, even incorrect or offensive–but it is actually very clear in Scripture. Hear me out.

1. Judaism worships YHWH, the God of the Torah (the Old Testament). As Christians we worship, Jesus, the God of the Bible.

2. They believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We believe that JESUS is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

3. They believe their God has yet to send a Messiah. We believe our God was our Messiah incarnate–God made flesh (John 1:1).

They do not believe Jesus is God. It is very distinct. If you are a Christian, you have a totally different God than a Jew. Jesus is Who sets us apart from every other ‘religion.’ This was a great reminder for me to pray that the Holy Spirit will reveal Jesus to Jewish hearts. How tragic to know that God’s beloved nation will not spend eternity with Him unless they recognize Jesus as YHWH!

I do not share this to bash Judaism. Rather to inform my brothers and sisters in Christ of our distinction from it. I encourage you to know your God, Jesus. Know why He’s absolutely different from any other god.

I need you to know that I love Israel. I love her culture, her people, her history. I want her to love my God. That is why she was created. Pray for her with me?

UPDATE ON THIS POST!!! I read a great book, “My Jesus Year” by Benyamin Cohen last week. He is an orthodox Jew who “investigated” Christianity for a year. It is highly enlightening. I can not recommend it enough to believers.

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I still love ya…

Last night, we were stuck inside due to snow on the east coast. I really do enjoy those mandatory relaxation evenings every once in a while throughout the winter months.

Unfortunately, the surplus of time allowed for some internet browsing. I say ‘unfortunately’ because I happened onto some disheartening blogs, through the magic of Google. If you read my blog at all, you probably know that I thoroughly enjoy the ministries of several different people. People who do not necessarily agree on everything or as I like to say–they are in different “camps.” I am not at all referring to people who would deny Jesus is the only way to heaven, but rather have different convictions of the Holy Spirit, i.e. women pastors, gifts of the Spirit, mega-church vs. multi-site, Calvinist vs. Baptist, worship styles, preaching styles, etc. This post is by no means trying to start a discussion on any of those things, rather, to express how sad my heart was yesterday as I read and heard (by podcast) brothers and sisters attack others in the family of Christ.

Honestly, I had begun to see a positive shift in some of these things–a cross-over of sorts between the different “camps.” I began to heavily respect those who gladly joined others (again–those with whom they didn’t necessarily agree on everything) to accomplish the work of Christ. For instance, Mark Driscoll speaking at Rick Warren’s Radicalis Conference. Or Rick Warren speaking at John Piper’s Desiring God Conference. Or Steven Furtick speaking at Jentezen Franklin’s Forward Conference. Or Matt Chandler and Mark Driscoll being very close friends. I could certainly share many more instances, but I’ll refrain. (I apologize if these names are foreign to you, but the point of the post still remains.)

I googled a very well-known Christian teacher’s name last night and was honestly heart-broken over the slander. I do not plan to reveal either the person’s name or the site I visited–so you can just let your mind keep wondering! 🙂 I know this person’s teaching, writing, speaking extremely well and I found myself articulating defenses for him/her. The Lord has used this person greatly in my life and I was hugely offended in his/her honor.

This same blogger/teacher/reviewer was an equal opportunity judge, that’s for sure. He had plenty of posts filled with names of well-known Christian “celebrities”–ALL with whom he had issue. His demeaning sarcasm, harsh critique, and hurtful words were despicable. To be fair, these were not all people of whom I’m a fan. This post is not a response to my hurt feelings for  certain people. I just witnessed such dissension and hostility for people whom Scripture calls this man’s family through the blood of Christ.

Today however, I believe God gave me a gift in a 2008 post by John Piper on Desiring God’s blog. Click and read it. Here is a godly man who certainly does not agree with fundamentalism, but he understands that he needs to be loving and gracious. He knows he is not Jesus, nor even the Apostle Paul. John Piper is a man I can trust, not simply because of his doctrine, but also how he responds to those who do not agree with him. The blogger may have 300% biblically-accurate doctrine, but I would never consider his leadership, simply because of the way he chooses to deal with others. Pray that God would convict his heart of any sin in this area.

I am certainly not saying that we don’t need to be cautious and discerning toward what we are being taught, nor am I saying that we cannot or should not have deep convictions. I am not even saying that we should not express disagreements. My point is that in spite of our differences, we still need to love and respect our brothers and sisters in Christ, to the glory of God our Father. I honor Dr. Piper, that above all, he wants to glorify Jesus. Thank you, Lord, for his godly example.

found…

Have you seen the movie “August Rush”? Take a look at the scene below. You can stop the video around 3:45 minutes if you like, or go ahead and watch the whole thing. (I couldn’t find the exact scene I needed, so I had to post this whole, long one.)

Here is a reminder of the conversation between Wizard and Evan when they are sitting on the park benches:

Wizard: What do you want to be in the world? I mean the whole world. What do you want to be? Close your eyes and think about that.
August Rush: (Pause) Found.

That line gets me every time. Obviously, it is compelling because the little boy doesn’t have a legitimate parent to take care of him and he wants to have a home. But it goes further than that for me, when I hear it. I think it gets to me because ultimately that is the cry of every human soul, MY soul: to be FOUND.

This reminds me of a story from Genesis 16, about a woman named Hagar. She was Sarai’s mistress or servant. Since Sarai was unable to conceive, she gave Hagar as wife, to her husband, Abram, in order that he could have a child by her. Hagar did in fact conceive a child, but at this news, Sarai treated her very harshly. Hagar, whose name coincidentally means “flight” in the Hebrew, fled from Sarai to the wilderness.

Before we go any further, I need you to connect with Hagar’s situation, as much as possible. She has a husband who did not marry her for love, but rather she was a piece of property to be used to get what they wanted/needed. The beloved first wife now hates her. Her husband does absolutely nothing to help or protect her, in fact, hands her over to the will of Sarai. She is having this man’s baby and nobody is throwing her a baby shower, no–instead, quite the opposite–she is being harshly mistreated. I want to be sure that you don’t miss the intensity of Sarai’s treatment of Hagar. The word in the Hebrew is anah meaning “to be afflicted, oppressed, humiliated; be downcast.” It is the same word that the prophet Isaiah used to prophesy regarding Christ’s death on the cross for our sins (53:4). So it would not be a stretch to say that Hagar feared for her life AND that of her unborn child, which of course is why she would have gotten out of there as quickly as possible! She is now out in the wilderness with, most likely, nothing. (I doubt she stopped to pack an overnight bag.) She cannot go back to her home, family, job, everything. She is now contemplating her future as a homeless, pennyless, unemployed, abandoned, single mother. And here’s the kicker: She didn’t ask for ANY of it! The woman who now despises her is the one who orchestrated the whole thing! Talk about confusion, hurt, anger, and despair.

It is at this point in the narrative that it becomes one of my favorite Old Testament stories.

7 The angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur.

The God of All Creation found her. Let that sink in. There is debate among theologians about who the “angel of the LORD” is. Some believe it is the preincarnate Christ appearing to people before his birth as a man. While others say that it is a messenger from Yahweh. I personally believe it is Jesus, but you are welcome to your opinion. The point still remains even if it was a messenger from God–He found her. In the midst of her torn clothing, bruised and bloodied body, matted hair, tear-soaked face, exhausted legs, broken heart, unknown future, God, praise His holy Name, found her.

8 And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.”

Please don’t misunderstand this to mean that God did not know the past nor the future. God knows all. He knew Hagar’s whole life, from beginning to end, but He still asked–because He is more interested in relationship. He asks us, “Why are you hurting so badly?” or “What happened to your heart?” because He wants us to tell Him our story, as we would a friend. He cares.

9 The angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.”

UM, WHAT?! Don’t you think Hagar may have raised her eyebrows at that, to say the least?? Sometimes when we share our hearts with God, He asks us to do things that seem unthinkable to us, things that could seemingly cause more heartache. Forgive her. Break up with him. Leave that job. Seek restoration. Keep sharing Christ with that person who is rejecting you. That is when faith, trust, and obedience have to reign supreme in our relationship with Jesus. What is it that you know God has spoken to your heart and you are not obeying Him? Ask for forgiveness, then do it, whatever it is.

10 The angel of the LORD also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” 11 And the angel of the LORD said to her, “Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has listened to your affliction. 12 He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.” 13 So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”

I said earlier that this is one of my favorite Old Testament stories. That is because it is the only occurrence of my all-time favorite name for God: El Roi (“roo-ee”), the God who sees. She isn’t going back to Sarai and Abram alone. She isn’t going unprotected. She isn’t going unsupported. She isn’t going as someone’s rejected slave girl. She is going as a woman whom El Roi had been watching. She is going as the one whom Yahweh found. She is forever changed.

Do you remember what it felt like when you realized that the God of the Universe had been seeking you? If you have forgotten, please take some time and ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of the value that Jesus bestowed on you when He found you. Be reminded also that it was not a one-time deal. He loves you and El Roi continues to watch and see.

If you haven’t had an encounter with the Living God as Hagar did, please stop running. He will find you in your wilderness. He’s watching. He knows. He loves. He sees. Be found. I promise you, like August Rush, it is the one thing you want most in the whole world…be found.