So I’ve been reading through Ezekiel, but it isn’t one of the “in depth” books that I’ve chosen. It’s mostly about (so far) how the elders and priests of Israel are worshipping other gods in secret in God’s own temple, and how the people of Israel have forgotten their God and have turned away from him to other things. There’s a lot of divine judgement to be had.
Chapter 14 specifically talks about idolatry, which was punishable by death. God says that he’s going to “answer myself” (kill them) not just out of his judgement, but because he wants to recapture the hearts of Israel. because he wants them to be his people, and he wants to be their God. He talks about bringing famine, wild beasts, a sword, and a plague against israel. God has dominion over the land, the animals, neighboring nations, and even disease and microbes.
This reminds me of a message that I heard at First Prez, I think from Pastor Dave, about distraction. He was telling us how this day and age is filled with it–we spend hours and hours out of our day sitting in front of a screen (as i’m doing now even) of a computer, or of a tv. we surf the internet, we watch youtube, we play computer games, video games, get addicted to television shows…all for our entertainment. As MTV’s former president and founder once said “The strongest appeal you can make is emotionally. If you can get their emotions going, make them forget their logic, you’ve got them. At MTV, we don’t shoot for the 14-year olds, we own them!” (MTV is Rock Around the Clock, Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov. 3, 1982) Yeah, its from 1982, but MTV has only gotten more provocative and degrading as time goes on. I usually don’t watch music videos on youtube because I never think to look them up, but my friend slept over this week and wanted to show me that jay sean is INDIAN (FINALLY AN ASIAN MUSICIAN ON THE RADIO), and that he has some pretty good songs. So we started watching, and his videos are actually quite tame compared to some of the stuff you see…I remember I seeing the music vid for Jesse McCartney’s Leaving and realized it was practically porn. 😦 (and those are two relatively “clean” songs) but that’s another post.
I was talking to two of my friends this past week, and both of them sit in front of a screen when they’re alone so that they won’t have to think, because if they think, they’ll get depressed. So they’re using television, using the internet or computer games as an escape from reality, to distract their minds from what’s really bothering them. And I’ll admit it, I’ve spent more time on hulu watching glee, desperate housewives, and the office,l and more time watching shows during meals than I’ve spent doing things I know are good for me–spending time with God, praying, reading, journalling (i really need to get to this), or even exercising…even hanging out with friends!! I don’t know, maybe I want to escape too, because their lives–Quinn Fabre, Bree Van de Camp, Michael Scott–are so much more messed up than my own. Or so I say to myself. I may not have be a pregnant teen, have a problem with alcohol and a son whose out to get me, or have no idea of social boundaries…but there’s a reason why we don’t all stop and think. Because we like temporary pleasure, and thinking about our brokenness, about the things we wish were different in our lives, about how far away from God we’ve been all this time…these are all too painful to face, too uncomfortable to admit, and seemingly too big to fix.
but is THIS the life that God wants for us? is THIS all that we can ever hope for?! I’m guilty of this myself, I know I have crap that God’s been wanting to speak to for a long time. but NO! God longs for us to spend time with him, but we think we’re too busy because we’ve watched an hour of glee, and hour of desperate housewives, and a half our of the office and now we have to actually do some work. we need to take time out to think, to process, and to go through all that we’ve been learning recently. Sure, God can speak to us through the television or songs, but that doesn’t compare to actually taking time out for him, or even just taking time out to reflect and open up space for him to speak through our lives. He has plans for our lives, “plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future” (Jer 29:11). He calls us his friends, and he wants us to have a life of joy that is complete.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:9-11)
And joy that withstands even in the hardest of circumstances (James 1:2).
At fall retreat, I was hit over and over again by how much more God wants us to have in this life, and how we’re settling for so little. There’s a life of fullness that’s waiting for us, if we’d only turn our eyes to the author and perfector of our faith.
The people of Israel in Ezekiel “set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces…” (Ez. 14:2) over two thousand years later, we still do the same…thank God for his patience and forgiveness!
Marvelous Light by Charlie Hall
I once was fatherless,
a stranger with no hope;
Your kindness wakened me,
Awakened me, from my sleep
Your love it beckons deeply,
a call to come and die.
By grace now I will come
And take this life, take your life.
Sin has lost it’s power,
death has lost it’s sting.
From the grave you’ve risen
Into marvelous light I’m running,
Out of darkness, out of shame.
By the cross you are the truth,
You are the life, you are the way
My dead heart now is beating,
My deepest stains now clean.
Your breath fills up my lungs.
Now I’m free. now I’m free!
Lift my hands and spin around,
See the light that i have found.
Oh the marvelous light
Lift my hands and spin
See the light within…