Monday, August 31, 2009

As true today

There is one central message that runs throughout the book of Hosea. Despite the unfaithful wife and the strangely named children, the main point is about Israel's relationship with God. God blessed them, took them out of Egypt, cared for them and they chose not to reciprocate. The people chose to do whatever they wanted, to ignore God and live as if he didn't exist.

The book of Hosea is God saying, "Okay, I'll do the same. See what life is like without me." The result is a book filled with the promise of future violence and darkness. The people have turned to the Assyrians to help them in their time of need and it is those Assyrians who will one day carry them off into slavery. They have picked their god and now they will endure the consequences.

The same can be said of us today. What god have we chosen? When we choose to turn to something other than God, we can expect to get exactly that. We choose ourselves, our own power, wealth, talent, understanding. We choose the government to take care of our needs. We choose others, not as compatriots or partners, but as saviors to do the work to save us. We should not be surprised when we find that after making such a choice we are left with exactly what we chose - imperfection, pain and darkness.

Hosea's message was not one of total darkness, however. Our God is a God of hope and love, after all. Hosea offers the same chance that the other prophets did, the same chance that we have today. Repent. Turn from our own desires and pursuits. Follow God instead of yourself. Make His face what we earnestly seek. Then we will find the peace, comfort and freedom that we were created to enjoy.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


"It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms;
but they did not realize it was I who healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness; with ties of love;
I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them."

There's no such thing as a self-made man.
There are only people who don't acknowledge the help they have received.


"Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on you."

"But you have planted wickedness, you have reaped evil, you have eaten the fruit of deception. Because you have depended on your own strength..."

Sin has twofold consequences. The Lord comes and showers righteousness on us, erasing the cosmic legal punishment we deserve for the things we do wrong. What he doesn't do is erase the physical consequences we face here and now. We we sow sin, we reap pain - for ourselves and for those around us.

Why doesn't God, if he is so all-powerful, erase those physical ramifications of sin too? Why doesn't he just clean up our messes for us? Why doesn't he make the lions lie down with the lambs here and now?

Then what would we do? What would our mission be? Where would we find our joy and fulfillment? Our twofold job is to Love God to address the legal ramifications of our sin and to Love People to help each other deal with the physical ramifications of our own sin and theirs - together.

If we aren't loving people through their tough times, we're missing our mission. If we are depending on our own strength, instead of relying on the God-provided strength of others, we're interfering with their mission.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

That Sounds Crazy

"Because your sins are so many and your hostility so great, the prophet is considered a fool, the inspired man a maniac."

What God Desires

"For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgement of God rather than burnt offerings."

Mercy and acknowledgement. That's what God wants. Show mercy to one another instead of looking out for ourselves all the time, we should put others first. Acknowledge that God exists and then act accordingly instead of acting as if we are the only ones that matter in the world.

Acknowledge God and show mercy to people. This is strangely (perfectly) similar to Jesus' statement of the greatest commandment(s) to Love God and to Love People. God is the same, he doesn't change. His desires don't change. He wants us to love him and act like it. He wants us to act like we love people and then do it.

Still, when we do turn to him we offer sacrifices and burnt offerings. We think we need to make grand gestures to make up for our shortcomings, to pay for what we've done wrong. We don't get the fact that God already did that. He paid for those sins, he leveled the playing field. We just accept and love. So simple to say, so hard to live.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Rock Bottom

5:15b "And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me."

People won't change until they reach rock bottom. Unfortunately as true now as it was then.

All the difference

Hosea 2:16 - "In that day," declares the Lord, "you will call me 'my husband'; you will no longer call me 'my master.'

How clear is that distinction? Master v. Husband. One rules over you and tells you what to do. One loves, cares and sacrifices for you. One is supreme authority that cannot be questioned. One is a partner.

How unique is the Christian's relationship with God? How different is it than that of any other religious system? The word used here for "Master" is the same word for "Baal," one of the leading other gods of the time. Other religions have merciful gods or powerful gods or intelligent gods or relatable gods or transcendent gods - we are the only ones with a loving God who calls us not his servants or worshippers or followers, but his children. For that we are more than lucky, we are blessed.

The difference between a master and a husband? Everything.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


"Hosea, name your son 'Jezreel' because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel."
"Hosea, name your daughter 'Lo-Ruhamah' (not loved) for I will no longer show love to the house of Israel."
"Hosea, name your son 'Lo-Ammi' (not my people) for you are not my people and I am not your God."

"Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' they will be called 'sons of the living God.'"

We sin, yet God forgives.
We suffer the consequences, yet God comforts us along the way.
We fall, yet God lifts us up.
We push away at every turn, yet God pulls us closer.
We are faithless, yet God is faithful.
We turn away, yet God remains.
We fail, yet God brings success.
We run away, yet God welcomes us home.
We grumble outside, yet God invites us in.
We do everything we can to make God angry, yet His love never falters or weakens.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


We walked off the plane at the airport in Shannon Ireland at 7:00 am, hustled through the nearly-empty customs lines and I quickly made my way to the bathroom. As I looked down into the urinal I noticed that the screen sitting in the bottom was stamped with the clover-emblazoned logo of Murphy Supply Company with a very strange looking phone number.

It was a small thing, not really that important. But it made me smile a little bit. Here I was in Ireland and everything was Irish, right down to the urinal filter. Everything seemed right and complete, a perfect little ecosystem that we walked right into.

One week later, we walked off the plane at CVG in Northern Kentucky at 5:00 pm, hustled through baggage claim and I quickly made my way to the bathroom. As I looked down into the urinal I learned a little something and took the picture above.

If you say so...

God told Hosea to do something crazy. He told him to do something that made no sense whatsoever.
"Hosea, go and marry a woman who will cheat on you and make you a laughingstock. Marry someone who will make you miserable, who will daily make you feel betrayed and forsaken."
Sounds like being a prophet was hard, like it took more than we could possibly imagine. Hosea's life was about to be totally devoted to God.

How often do we ignore or avoid something because we think it sounds crazy or over the top or too much? How often do we miss what God is doing to try and stay safe or because we don't see the sense in it? Maybe its time for a little crazy. Maybe its time for things that don't make sense.