Brandon Lemois Filed Under:

Isaiah 8v12-20 is pretty interesting.

The one verse that catches me is v18. Isaiah was reminding the tribe that they were signs and symbols of the Lord, who dwells in Mount Zion.

They were the signs and symbols.

The way they lived were the signs and symbols.

What were they signs of? Look at the top. Not being caught up in conspiracies, not fearing what “the people” or culture fears. Now, it wasn’t fear like the fear of something you are scared of. Fear at this time, and many times in the OT, was all about how you lived in response to what you were fearing.

We never get along well with the phrase “fear of the Lord.” Americans look up the word “fear” than the word “Lord” and they put them together to mean something negative. ”Fear” gets us off on the wrong foot.

Fear-of-the-Lord is a “bound phrase.” The four words in English, two in Hebrew, are bound together making one single word. Fear-of-the-Lord. It is not a combination of fear and Lord. It is a word on its own.
Eugene Peterson explains this word

“[When] we let the biblical contexts provide the conditions for understanding the word, we find that it means something more like a way of life in which human feelings and behavior are fused with God’s being and revelation… God is active, Man is active in the term. Fear-of-the-Lord designates a way of living that cannot be dissected into two parts… it marks the way of life appropriate to our creation and salvation and blessing by God.”

You are a sign and a symbol of a different way of life. A way that involves your life being infused with God’s life. When this fear-of-the-Lord is not present, we begin to fear and fuse ourselves with things like consumerism, advertisements, and celebrities that “give us” our power. Where there is no Fear-of-the-Lord there will be racial and class resentment, left and right agendas, and other sorts of “you surely won’t DIE” mentalities.

What are you “fearing” today?

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Big Announcements

Brandon Lemois Filed Under:
Luke amazes me. Jewish writers will always right intentionally. They don't say things just to say things and they don't give details just to go on rabbit trails. Everything points to something bigger. A bigger point, connecting us to a bigger God.

Not only is a Luke a Jewish writer, tradition has him down as a first century doctor. Homie is smart.

In his story about Jesus, Luke has some big announcements that have some particulars in them. Without much digging we strike the water that is waiting to explode out of his writings.

In Luke 2:8 there is a very big... very hopeful announcement that this baby has come. God has come to earth to restore his people - a whole lot of depth and meaning packed into that Emmanuel word that Christmas throws around. In his detailed way - Luke lets us know that this big announcement is to shepherds in the field.

If you look in scripture, there are over 700 references to sheep. Sheep, ewes, shepherds, etc. It is the animal that is addressed and used for illustration the most in the scriptures. In most societies, Shepherds were not those that are the most useful. You don't get a ton out of them. They are teenagers mainly... some women and elderly. It is because it doesn't involve a ton of hard work... a lot of walking, hanging out, and leading. Things that production based communities don't see as worth a whole lot.

The first announcement of the birth of Jesus is given to them. Seems like they are a worth something.

Fast forward a few years.

After a crazy interaction with the government, Jesus is killed.

Custom for the grieving process of that culture, women would go to the burial site with herbs, spices, and some more smell good stuff. More than a way to keep the stench down, this was more a closure for them. Much like many would go to take care of a tombstone today. Clean the grass off from the landscapers that never seem to care as much as you do, put some flowers on it. There won't be much appreciation for the act, but its a connection that helps the person with a certain sense of closure.

Well... in a pretty big, short amount of time, life affirming way, Jesus becomes himself again... life. He wasn't there when the women got there but an announcement is shared. [Luke 24:6] This man they were looking for has actually risen back from the dead and is out among the people. In his moving, active, and dynamic way, he is out showing how his life will always conquer death.

Women... not much to say about them from the first century culture. Unfortunately, they were seen as a lesser part of the society. So much so that it is believed that many people would have had a hard time even believing the account that this happened.

The first announcement of the single biggest, life affirming, restoring act in the history of the world is given to them.

Later on in the same chapter, Luke is talking about the last conversation Jesus is having with his disciples. He announces to them that there are some great things that will happen. Stay here and wait for them. He finishes this story in Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit comes to give them "power from on high."

One of the most intriguing questions in the story in Acts 2 is when the people ask the question, "Aren't they Galileans?" when they realize they are speaking in other languages. Galileans were seen as average, run of the mill, 9-5ers. Not much special about them... they knew their scriptures for sure but weren't seen as much besides that. When the question is being asked - it is as if they are saying, "Aren't these normal, average people doing something only smart and educated people do?"

The first announcement that the most average of people can do extraordinary things, is given to these young disciples.

Seems like these "announcements" are more like "pronouncements" or declarations of a way of life that seems to go completely against what the society is expecting. Seems like Luke is catching hold of this powerful, dynamic, exploding understanding that Jesus is with the people that don't seem to be giving much, that are going day in and day out without much excitement, the people that are not going to be writing books, or climbing cultural ladders in an extreme fashion. He is all about the path of descent and what is happening down below, than up above. Luke is pronouncing that this Jesus is about the common and those interacting in it.

These people that were involved in some of the biggest announcements in the world are those that are leading our churches, involved in our communities, enjoying their families, mowing the grass, taking care of the dog, grocery shopping, having great weeks, and having terrible weeks. Jesus shares with these people that there common lifestyle is a part of something a little bit bigger than what they think.

Our lives are part of something much bigger than what we are thinking... our leadership styles, our decisions, our careers, our smiles, our interactions, our moments are all involved in an announcement of the life of Jesus, something revolutionary to any common thing.

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Brandon Lemois Filed Under:
SO -- boy was I reminded of something this weekend...

A quartet of men sang "Jesus Loves Me" by the Gaither Vocal Band. Secretly, one of my favorite bands ever! But if you seriously think about it... what you see in a whole lot of church services, especially those who are trying to be relevant, is not a men's quartet, and not GVB, and not suits. Well... as soon as they were done, our church [] erupted in applause. HA - I still laugh, I was completely blown away.

Who are we being relevant to? Am I being relevant to myself as a pastor or service planner? If all I am doing is answering questions that no one is asking or presenting things that really make me happy, then I am massively missing the point. Or am I striving to be relevant to the people in our community? Come to find out, our community extremely connected with that song... [especially the older members] we need be aware of this. Yep... Jesus uses music like this to connect with people in church and people who don't normally come and boy was I surprised.

SIDE NOTE: GT Music is going to be updating a blog from our weekend services. Stuff that we are doing, tools that we use, songs that we do that help us in our weekend services. Maybe you or someone in your church could use an extra resource? Check it out:

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End User

Brandon Lemois Filed Under:
I don't know if this is most lively thing that I have learned but I think it can be applied everywhere...

I realized a few months ago how theoretical my degree is - not that a degree in Biblical Studies doesn't have any absolutes or that we aren't asking questions and struggling or anything... but that everything we did and talked about and studied in school was to get us thinking in a way to apply it. In systems, I learned very quickly that theory doesn't do much if the End User isn't carrying it out. I also learned that if you are pushing theory more than a creative solution for your scenario - you're not going to get to far.

Whatever your "system" is... at Work or with Jesus... the End User needs to carry out a creative solution.

[ps - I know that Jesus isn't a system...]

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Out Of Your Way

Brandon Lemois Filed Under:
Psalm 105 is a tad overwhelming... David lays out everything that the Lord had done to keep his side of the covenant. Read it! There's a lot there. Right at the end he says that it was all done so they could follow him. I think it's important to see this...central to the story of scripture is this idea that God will bend over backwards for people. From Genesis, to Acts, to Revelation...

Here at GT, im always telling people that worship is an expression of what is happening to you on the inside- and if this is central to the Lord than I want it to be central for me. So I'm asking myself this morning, how am I bending over backwards for people, completely going out of my way so that they can follow Jesus better?

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Brandon Lemois Filed Under:
Paul writes to Ephesus, who actually play a main part of the NT story, and He tells them that he has been praying for them and his prayer is that they would know how deep the father's love is for them. Nothing new. Just that they would have some idea of the fullness of God.

I wonder what my priorities would look like if I lived a life that was full of God. I wonder what hurts I would let go of. I wonder what bitterness would become peace. Our ordinary moments will change into extraordinary moments when you begin to live a life of fullness because there won't be anymore room for anything else..

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Brandon Lemois Filed Under:
I think one of the most natural places for the ordinary to become extraordinary is when you are in a place only God can get credit for it working out. When you have no other choice except to take a deep breath and realize that you’re not the person that keeps all this stuff in orbit anyway.

He teaches this point in funny way sometimes. This week my computer died, the transmission in my car has decided to not let me go over 40mph, and my guitar needs to be completely set up. Those things are like…the main things I use day in and day out. It is almost like when God asked Moses to put his staff down…everything was tied to that – financial security, relational security, etc. The Lord took that and made it something extraordinary. It just makes me realize that I really need to follow him here.

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