Touched by God’s Tattoo
Waiting in line to check out at a grocery store recently, I noticed a skull and crossbones tattoo on the upper left arm of the man in front of me. His tattoo reminded me of when my oldest brother came home on furlough from the navy with a tattoo of a hula girl on his upper left arm. I was 12-years-old and I asked him why he got that thing anyway. He laughingly said, “Every time I flex my biceps, I remember how much I miss Hawaii.”
Since I’ve always been interested in the reason an individual gets a tattoo, I asked the man about his. He pointed to the skull and crossbones and said, “This identified me with my gang when I was in prison.” He snickered a little and added, “I’ll always ’member my behind-bars buddies.”
A biker behind me pulled up his T-shirt to show a rose tattooed on his chest. “It was my old lady’s favorite flower,” he said. He got quiet, rubbed over the rose, and slightly mumbled, “She’s dead now, but I’ll never forget her.”
Listening nearby, an elderly gentleman began rubbing the number tattooed on his arm and said, “I won’t forget Auschwitz.”
“Grandpa,” his grandson asked, “Do you want to forget?”
“Never! And I want your generation to remember also.”
The prophet Isaiah probably had the same idea when he wrote:
“… I [God] will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; …” (Isaiah 49:15, 16a NIV)
According to John MacArthur, he was alluding to the Jewish custom, possibly drawn from Exodus 13:9, of puncturing their hands with a symbol of their city and temple to reassure Israel that God had promised never to forget his people.
Tattooing is becoming more prevalent in our American culture. A 2015 study reported that about 36% of Americans ages 18-29 have at least one tattoo, and they enjoy talking about them.
Last week, I was being helped at a pharmacy by a young lady who had tattoos running from her right shoulder down to her fingertips. I commented, “You sure must like tattoos.”
She replied, “My tattoos remind me of who I am.”
A man behind me said, “I’m into tattooing myself. I’m a father. See this heart with two names in it,” pointing to the top of his right hand. “Every time I look at that heart, it reminds me how much I love my twin boys.”
A young man in line chimed in, “I’ve got ’em all over my body. I get a tattoo every time there’s a new thing to remember.”
Remember — that’s the word these tattoos are painted around. All of these individuals want visual reminders.
When I see these tattoos that are making all kinds of statements, I am reminded that God’s tattoo is also making a statement: “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands so that I will never forget you.” God remembers all the names of the stars he’s created, and he’s reassuring us that he remembers all of our names by reminding us where our names are … in the palms of his hands.
God remembers that we belong to him, he remembers to protect and provide for us, and when we have a need, he remembers to guide us. And also, painful as it may be, when we need correction, he remembers to discipline us.
When the Lord just wants to express his love and devotion to us, his omnipotent hands reach down from heaven and embrace us. We feel him holding us close and then hear him so softly whisper, “See, I have tattooed you on the palms of my hands.”
Streams In The Desert
By: l. B. Cowman
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, (Heb 12:1)
HOLINESS MEANS HEALING
Fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. — Romans 12:2 The Message
It seems that much of what Christians believe they are called to is a cluster of activities that include regular church attendance, Bible study, giving, and attending the annual retreat. Now — what is all this activity supposed to do in us? If it’s not restoring the whole person, it may be completely missing the point of what God is after in our life: to heal us as human beings.
It might help to contrast this with a couple other popular options out there: the self-help movement’s goal of getting your life working — helping you with your anxiety or your weight problems. It is right and it is wrong. I believe with all my heart that God wants life for us there. But when we focus on fixing problems, the transformation of our character is missed.
Then you have what we’ll call righteousness Christianity, focusing mostly on “sin” and “the loss of morality.” A great deal of energy is spent trying to make people behave. And it is right and it is wrong. Yes, we’re supposed to live godly lives, but where’s the joy and the intimacy with God?
God is restoring the creation He made. Whatever holiness truly is, the effect of it is healing. That’s what it does to a person.
Is the Christianity you are living healing your life? Is it ushering in restoration? If not… you might want to ask Jesus if He has something new for you.
Only Jesus could get away with taking all of God’s commands — and boiling them down to two. Two. We’ve missed the brilliance of it, and the immense kindness too.
People seem committed to making things complex. Look at what we’ve done to education and taxation. The Jews of Jesus’ day had so many rules it practically immobilized them. This wasn’t what God intended. The way of holiness was never meant to be a labyrinth of complexity and eventual despair.
High standards are often ignored because we feel we haven’t the slightest chance of meeting them. So why bother? Moral issues remain cloudy as a way of excusing ourselves from ever really facing them.
Jesus cuts through this when He says, “It all comes down to this: Love God, love others. Practice this and you’ll be fine.” He’s not dismissing the many wonderful instructions God has given us in His Word; He is bringing us back to the issue of motive. Okay. If the entire Bible comes down to these two issues, it ought to grab our attention. These are our marching orders: if we make loving God and loving others our motive, we will find the beauty of Jesus’ holiness.
Yes, Lord, I choose Your way of love. I choose love as the goal of my life. Loving You and loving others. I say yes, Lord!
YOUR HEART IS GOOD
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His Cross and crucified them there. — Galatians 5:24 NLT
The idea that we are ready to sin at a moment’s notice, incapable of goodness, and far from any glory is a common mind-set. It’s also unbiblical.
The passage people think they are referring to is Romans 7:18, where Paul says,
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing, — KJV
Notice the distinction he makes. He does not say, “There is nothing good in me. Period.” What he says is that “in my flesh dwelleth no good thing.” The flesh is the old nature, the old life, crucified with Christ. The flesh is the very thing God removed from our hearts when he circumcised them by his Spirit, as Paul explains in Galatians.
Yes, you will still battle with sin. You have to choose to live from the new heart, and your old nature doesn’t go down without a fight. But the question on the table is: Does the Bible teach that Christians are nothing but sinners — that there is nothing good in us? The answer is no! Christ lives in you. You have a new heart. Your heart is good, and that good heart is what is true about who you are.