Posted in coaching

ezekiel unfiltered: chapter 1

On Ezekiel’s thirtieth birthday, the year he should have entered the priesthood in Jerusalem, he found himself “among the exiles by the Chebar canal” in the land of Babylon (Ezek 1:1). Everything he had worked for, his schooling, his plans, were gone. And to top it off, no birthday cake.

But it’s in this place of shattered dreams that God breaks into Ezekiel’s life. In his moment of despair, “The word of the Lord came to Ezekiel … and the hand of the Lord was upon him,” along with “the glory of the Lord” (1:3-28). God draws near to us through his word, with his helping hand, and with his radiant glory.

You get the feeling that Zeke is struggling to find the words to describe the heavens opening up to him. It’s indescribable, so he keeps using “likeness.” As a cloud overshadows a windstorm, four Spirit-propelled, four-faced, four-winged creatures emerge (1:4-6). They are not space aliens; they’re cherubim (10:15, 20). And they don’t look like chubby babies either.

In fact, these bizarre looking creatures have their own set of wheels. Well, it’s not really their wheels. Cherubim are more like Motaur (the half-motorcycle guy commercials)—only with gyroscope wheels that can move in any direction. The cherubim and the wheels within the wheels move together “for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels” (1:19-20; cf. 10:17).

Over their heads was “the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire” (1:26). What Ezekiel describes is not a stationary throne on its own, but a four-wheeled-gyroscope chariot-throne (1:15-26). Wait a minute! God’s throne is like a chariot? “There is none like God … who rides through the heavens to your help” (Deut 33:26). He doesn’t just sit on his throne all day, every day, for eternity. His throne moves! Cool.

“And seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance” (1:26). Ezekiel’s description of the Man-God is a lot like John’s description of the fiery radiance of Jesus (Rev 1). No wonder Ezekiel does a face plant. The Lord’s chariot-throne draws near to his people at the gloomiest times and darkest places. Thank goodness.

Hardships are hard. Like Ezekiel, in our moments of despair, God draws near to us through his word to guide us and give us hope. He draws near to us with his hand to strengthen us so that we can take the next step. Jesus draws near to us with his glory to transform us into his likeness “from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor 3:18).

Hardships prepare us for an eternal weight of glory. “When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Col 3:4). We will glisten with the blazing brilliance of God’s glory. The “sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom 8:18).

Posted in coaching

the weird laws about relational boundaries

Weird laws in the book called, “Leviticus,” are easily dismissed by many people—especially laws that set boundaries for human sexual relations. After all, isn’t sex simply a private matter between consenting adults? Well, let’s take a look at Leviticus 18.

In this chapter, there are four boundaries concerning sexual relations: incest (sex with close relatives; 18:6-18), non-marital affairs (sex outside of marriage; 18:19-20), same-sex affairs (sex with the same gender; 18:22), and bestiality (sex with animals; 18:23). The New Testament offers no exception clauses. So, what happens if someone crosses the line?

“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). God lavishes his grace on us, without endorsing our sin. In doing so, he establishes the model for how we are to respond to each other. We extend grace to one another, without endorsing each other’s sins.

As we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18), we come to realize that we’ve been given a new identity in Christ. What does this mean? It is not the loss of our true selves; our true selves are redeemed in Christ. Our new identity “in Christ” is actually far more profoundly real and intensely intimate than our sexual fulfillment.

This is why Paul says, “the body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? … he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him” (1 Corinthians 6:13-17). We are now joined—spiritually and bodily—to the incarnate, crucified, risen King! It is our union with the living Christ that gives us meaning, identity, fulfillment, and eternal existence. We “flee from sexual immorality” because our “body is a temple of the Holy Spirit”—not ours to do with it as we please; our bodies “were bought with a price” so we “glorify God in [our] body” (1 Cor 6:18-20).

We still struggle to live faithfully. Our “natural” impulses surface in countless ways. Jesus invites us to come to him as we are—but his offer is not to stay as we are. We are part of a body being transformed into the likeness of Christ. Following Christ requires difficult, costly obedience as we “groan inwardly” for the “redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23). Our hope for the complete transformation of our fallen physical state awaits the future resurrection.

Although it may seem odd to contemporary sensibilities, God’s weird laws are not weird after all. God loves us—and we need to trust him. If we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” we will honor the boundaries he has set for us (2 Peter 3:18).