The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Changed from the inside out (readings for Aug 24, 2008)

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will my wife think it's hot?

The look: will my wife think it hot?

I’ve started shaving again.  Regrets.

Found out I had sleep apnea a few weeks ago, and have began using a CPAP at night.  It’s like sleeping with  a cool breeze (up your nostrils, anyway).  And my, sleep is delicious!  I’m awake!

I had to shave because the mask sits atop the whiskers under my nose, and that made that whisker-skin sore by morning.  Which woke me up, defeating the purpose.  So I shave.  And they grow back.  And I shave.

Friends of mine have had laser hair removal.  Something about the laser so zaps the whisker that, in many cases, it never comes back.  Something happens down in the follicle, inside your skin.  And there you are, smooth as a baby’s bottom.  No more stinky after-shave.

Shaving works outside-inIt’s never over.  Laser hair removal, I suppose you could say, works inside-out.  When it works, that one hair is gone for good.

The religious conservatives of Jesus’ day thought that God worked outside in.  You conform to the rules, God likes you better, good things happen.  But Jesus – and later, Paul – said “Uh, no!” about that.  Grace works – as an old fellow I knew used to say – “slow but fine:” inside out.  Watch how Paul says it in this Sunday’s Bible readings, just below.

I’ve got to go shave.

Proper 16 (21) August 24, 2008
Exodus 1:8-2:10; Psalm 124; Romans 12:1-8; Matthew 16:13-20

Romans 12:1-8

Place Your Life Before God

1So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life–your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life–and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. 2Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

3I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.

4In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. 5The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, 6let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.

If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; 7if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; 8if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Exodus 1

“A New King . . . Who Didn’t Know Joseph”

8A new king came to power in Egypt who didn’t know Joseph. 9He spoke to his people in alarm, “There are way too many of these Israelites for us to handle. 10We’ve got to do something: Let’s devise a plan to contain them, lest if there’s a war they should join our enemies, or just walk off and leave us.”

11So they organized them into work-gangs and put them to hard labor under gang-foremen. They built the storage cities Pithom and Rameses for Pharaoh. 12But the harder the Egyptians worked them the more children the Israelites had–children everywhere! The Egyptians got so they couldn’t stand the Israelites 13and treated them worse than ever, crushing them with slave labor. 14They made them miserable with hard labor–making bricks and mortar and back-breaking work in the fields. They piled on the work, crushing them under the cruel workload.

15The king of Egypt had a talk with the two Hebrew midwives; one was named Shiphrah and the other Puah. 16He said, “When you deliver the Hebrew women, look at the sex of the baby. If it’s a boy, kill him; if it’s a girl, let her live.”

17But the midwives had far too much respect for God and didn’t do what the king of Egypt ordered; they let the boy babies live. 18The king of Egypt called in the midwives. “Why didn’t you obey my orders? You’ve let those babies live!”

19The midwives answered Pharaoh, “The Hebrew women aren’t like the Egyptian women; they’re vigorous. Before the midwife can get there, they’ve already had the baby.”

20God was pleased with the midwives. The people continued to increase in number–a very strong people. 21And because the midwives honored God, God gave them families of their own.

22So Pharaoh issued a general order to all his people: “Every boy that is born, drown him in the Nile. But let the girls live.”

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Exodus 2

Moses

1A man from the family of Levi married a Levite woman. 2The woman became pregnant and had a son. She saw there was something special about him and hid him. She hid him for three months. 3When she couldn’t hide him any longer she got a little basket-boat made of papyrus, waterproofed it with tar and pitch, and placed the child in it. Then she set it afloat in the reeds at the edge of the Nile.

4The baby’s older sister found herself a vantage point a little way off and watched to see what would happen to him. 5Pharaoh’s daughter came down to the Nile to bathe; her maidens strolled on the bank. She saw the basket-boat floating in the reeds and sent her maid to get it. 6She opened it and saw the child–a baby crying! Her heart went out to him. She said, “This must be one of the Hebrew babies.”

7Then his sister was before her: “Do you want me to go and get a nursing mother from the Hebrews so she can nurse the baby for you?”

8Pharaoh’s daughter said, “Yes. Go.” The girl went and called the child’s mother.

9Pharaoh’s daughter told her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me. I’ll pay you.” The woman took the child and nursed him.

10After the child was weaned, she presented him to Pharaoh’s daughter who adopted him as her son. She named him Moses (Pulled-Out), saying, “I pulled him out of the water.”

11Time passed. Moses grew up. One day he went and saw his brothers, saw all that hard labor. Then he saw an Egyptian hit a Hebrew–one of his relatives! 12He looked this way and then that; when he realized there was no one in sight, he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand.

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Psalm 124

A pilgrim song of David

1If GOD hadn’t been for us -all together now, Israel, sing out!-

2If GOD hadn’t been for us

when everyone went against us,

3We would have been swallowed alive

by their violent anger,

4Swept away by the flood of rage,

drowned in the torrent;

5We would have lost our lives

in the wild, raging water.

6Oh, blessed be GOD!

He didn’t go off and leave us.

He didn’t abandon us defenseless,

helpless as a rabbit in a pack of snarling dogs.

7We’ve flown free from their fangs,

free of their traps, free as a bird.

Their grip is broken;

we’re free as a bird in flight.

8GOD’s strong name is our help,

the same GOD who made heaven and earth.

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Matthew 16:13-20

Son of Man, Son of God

13When Jesus arrived in the villages of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “What are people saying about who the Son of Man is?”

14They replied, “Some think he is John the Baptizer, some say Elijah, some Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”

15He pressed them, “And how about you? Who do you say I am?”

16Simon Peter said, “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17Jesus came back, “God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. 18And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.

19“And that’s not all. You will have complete and free access to God’s kingdom, keys to open any and every door: no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. A yes on earth is yes in heaven. A no on earth is no in heaven.”

20He swore the disciples to secrecy. He made them promise they would tell no one that he was the Messiah.

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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Written by Monte

August 22, 2008 at 2:17 pm

Posted in Politics

One Response

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  1. Well, Well, I would have thought that the leap from whiskers to Paul’s theology of transformation would have been farther. I think it was the laser that brought it together.
    This week’s scripture, as found in the Message, makes my Christian life do-able and even inviting. ” Take your everyday, ordinary life… place… as offering… embrace God…”
    I just realized, I have favorite scriptures. Huh. But that is for old people. Huh.
    Well it is a day for transformations. I think differently now.
    Hmmmmm.
    Sharon

    sharon

    August 24, 2008 at 4:57 pm


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