Category Archives: Jesus

Counter Balance

GTY_woman_on_scale_kab_140723_16x9_992It is Tuesday morning.  I awaken and the first thing I do is I head to the hall and step on some medical scales that will tell me if I have been a good boy or a bad boy.

These are not those scales with flashing digital numbers, these are the ones that have the two big blocks of steel that run on a slide and when the indicator is balanced, that is your weight.  My weight is measured by a counter weight on the scale. It stands opposing every fat cell in my body, and…  IT DOESN’T LIE!

My weight is determined by the counter weight!  Now that is worth pondering because the Christian life is very similar.

David, the former shepherd now King of Israel, rehearses this idea in one of his songs. In he draws the contrast between two seemingly opposing ideas, two counter balances.  On the one hand he sings of the omnipotence and omniscience of YHWH while on the other he concludes the song with hatred! It does not seem to be fitting conclusion to the song.  Praise then hatred. Strange!

How does one explain such contrast?

Perhaps the Lord gives us a peek here of his COUNTER BALANCES in this Christian walk. Both extremes are seen here, they are vocalized, embraced, and equal and acknowledged by YHWH.

My praise for the Father today also measures my hatred for wickedness.

David sees them both as something that compliments one another. After asserting, “How precious to me are your thoughts O God!  How vast is the sum of them… I awake and I am still with you,” he then concludes the song with:

“O that you would slay the wicked O God.  O men of blood depart from me!  They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take tour name in vain!  Do I not hate those who hate you O Lord? And do I not loath those who rise up against you? I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.”

And then he seems to challenge the Lord with this audacious claim by saying:

“ Search me O God and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

This appears to be so bold.  His hatred for the wicked is put up for examination before the Lord and he is completely confortable with the test.

The scope of Jesus’ majesty creates in me a single mind, a single eye that puts me at odds with the world. It surrounds me with His omnipotence and at the same time it surrounds me with enemies.

In our day David would be branded a bigot.  Hatred for any reason is politically and socially unacceptable.  But that is an illusion.  Hatred will remain among us until Jesus returns.

Now it must be asked is it wrong to hate the wicked?

David would think it is not.  He hates those who hate the Lord and then opens himself to the highest court for examination.  He seems completely innocent in suggesting that the wicked be destroyed. But how does this flesh out for us with Jesus’ message of loving your enemies?

First, it is completely impossible to love your enemies if they are not your enemies to begin with. I think this is the point David makes in his song. But I would ask, “Should they remain your adversaries?”

David hates his enemies because he sees them as enemies of YHWH. That is why we hate! It is covenantal to hate those who stand against the One we are in covenant with and love the ones who are with Him. David is no stranger to covenant and his comments reflect so. Yet, Jesus comes to broaden the covenant with an invitation for all men calling them to come and lay down their weapons of resistance and become sons of the King.

The surest way to change your enemy is to make him your brother.  For this reason we preach the Gospel to all men, men who were enemies of God but now are made sons through the redeeming task of Christ.

Secondly, Love and hatred always work in tandem with one another.

Amos put it like this, “Hate evil and love good…” () Love and hatred are like the scales I use each day to weigh myself. My weight is counter-balanced with the blocks of steel on the other end.  My hatred is countered by my love and visa versa.

The world will tell you it is “unchristian” to hate but I think the Bible challenges that notion.  Yet we are not at liberty to respond to this hate in the manner the world does. We as His children have been given the grace and the task to meet their wickedness with the love and truth of Christ.

We will not shrink from identifying the wicked nor will we reject them by being silent.  We will proclaim the only One who can change an evil soul into a Saint.

We won’t rant and rave.  We won’t use carnal methods to belittle or strike.

We will simply proclaim!   Wickedness will be addressed either by His grace through Christ or by His wrath in judgment. Either way it will be addressed.

One final note:  Are you over weight with either love or hatred?

Don’t get on the scales unless you are ready to learn the truth but then again you may be at the perfect weight!

HE IS THE PERFECT WEIGHT!

SELAH!


139:1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.

13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.

19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
20 They speak against you with malicious intent;
your enemies take your name in vain!
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22 I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting! (ESV)

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THE FUTURE

Future

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is known!

It was told!

It is certain!

The recent decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States have unleashed a flurry of speculation and fear among the religious community.  No one can deny that change is accelerating and our country as well as the world is moving at break-neck speed to a conclusion, one which is debated with much earnest in the social media.

Underneath all of this speculation is a towering fear that things are spinning out of control and the powers that once gave us a complacent life are now in jeopardy. The “monuments of security” such as the presidency, military supremacy, economic stability and moral stability are eroding and it is causing a national angst.

It is a justified fear, if you are standing on your own!

But if you are His, if you have, as Jesus told Nicodemus been “Born Again” the future is not a mystery.

Jesus took his “students” to His favorite classroom, the Mount of Olives and taught them some alarming things. This was not a class that any one had expected.  It was a class on THE FUTURE.

In the middle of His discourse he makes an astounding statement.  “Be on guard; I have told you all things before hand.”  In other words all the things that would challenge us as His children of a different Kingdom in the difficult times ahead, he gave on that lonely hillside.

But what were these things he was talking about?

Their ears stood at attention as he told them of their future, and ours as well! “There will be imposters who come saying they are the Christ and will lead many astray.  Wars of incredible violence and even news reports of such will fill the news media and alarm the population.  Those who are not killed in these wars will be paralyzed by the fear that they are approaching their own borders.  Earthquakes of unprecedented strength will occur even in the most unlikely places causing worldwide famine with millions starving, even in developed countries.  Persecution will arise by unjust laws aimed at Christians, regulations and edicts that will attack their foundational beliefs and force them to choose my law or their king’s. My sons and daughters will be hated by all men, even those in their own family for the stand they take. Teenagers will call 911 to arrest their folks because they refuse to allow their daughters to have an abortion. Tribulation will come that will shake the very soul of man and in that storm of fear one will come forward and declare he is the Christ. “

Jesus continued, “ But when they bring you before the courts let the Holy Spirit form your response. The stage I will put you on is too big for you to take the credit and say anything you want. Use the opportunity wisely and let my Spirit tell you what to say.”

continues with other signs of what is ahead but let it be said,

OUR FUTURE IS KNOWN

OUR FUTURE WAS TOLD

OUR FUTURE IS CERTAIN

The disciples’ heads must have been swimming as they listened.  This was not what they imagined his future kingdom to be like. Most of us do not either.

But two things seem to stand out in his discourse.  One, we have alluded to but will expand on here, namely, our response before our accusers.

Facebook is an excellent platform to communicate with others far beyond your locale but the responses I have seen to the present abrupt changes seem to be mostly responses that have come from emotion more than from The Spirit.

Perhaps we should regard our counterclaims as those that reflect the Risen Lord rather than our rage.

Then coming to the end of we see Jesus’ exhortation to the 12, “STAY AWAKE!”

It is vital for those in power to numb the populace for their agenda to progress.  This numbness comes in a wide variety of ways but regardless how it inflicts its stupor, we are called to remain awake and vigilant.  We are the children of light and see with eyes that can penetrate the darkness.  This ability to see is what will propel many of us into conflict with the current regime.

So, our future was designed for us! You are here in this time at this place for this moment!  He knew you would be here when it all breaks lose and He has invested a heavy price to insure your success.

So fear not!

Be wise!

Stay full!

Live light!

And never retreat!

Even so Lord Jesus… COME!

 

 

 

 

 


13:1 And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?” And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.

“But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. 10 And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. 11 And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. 13 And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

14 “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything out, 16 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 17 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 18 Pray that it may not happen in winter. 19 For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be. 20 And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. 21 And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.

24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

28 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

32 “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. 35 Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” (ESV)


13:1 And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?” And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.

“But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. 10 And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. 11 And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. 13 And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

14 “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything out, 16 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 17 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 18 Pray that it may not happen in winter. 19 For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be. 20 And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. 21 And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.

24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

28 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

32 “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. 35 Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” (ESV)

This Magnificent Man Day 3

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THE PORTAL

 

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.

 “In those days…” They were without a doubt days that would change history. Calendars would determine their dates by the arrival of this man.    Here another figure joins John at center stage but this man is the One of whom John spoke, the One whose sandals were more honorable than the prophet’s reputation.

Jesus leaves home. Few outside his immediate family have a clue to his future.  Jesus has grown to become a man working hard in his father’s workshop.  Hands roughened by years of working with wood are now destined to heal the sick, comfort the hurting and overturn man’s carnal ambitions. All his years at home were in preparation for a brief three and one half year ministry. Our culture demands instant results and often we demand them from unqualified men but one must ask, “What qualifies men to lead?”  As we look to the Prime Example in Jesus it would seem quite natural for God to take His time in carefully molding His will and character into the lives of those who bear His name. Jesus was at it were, hidden for thirty years while God was preparing both His Son and those who would receive Him.  Growth takes time, even for Jesus!

The day comes when he leaves his family and is guided to a river.  He stands in line with families, children, aunts and uncles waiting to enter the waters.  Others don’t recognize him but then it’s his turn.   John looks towards the next candidate and recognizes his cousin. The Baptist knew what others did not.  This was no ordinary man and certainly one that needed no repentance.  Mathew describes the moment with a sense of hesitance on behalf of John but John will agree to Jesus’ request.

I wonder what went through John’s mind and his heart as he lowered his cousin into those gentle currents. Questions undoubtedly raced through his mind when suddenly the clouds began moving rapidly as though they were being torn apart by an invisible hand.  Looking up it seemed Jesus could peer beyond the physical and see that innumerable host of angels gazing on as the Lamb of God fulfilled all righteousness. In plain view of those observing the Holy Spirit descended like a gently dove upon him.  And then suddenly The Father spoke from heaven. His words were heard by all but understood by only a few.  Perhaps some thought it was thunder but Jesus heard them clearly.  What other men mistake as something of nature those who have ears to hear walk away with understanding.  The Portal between heaven and earth literally stood before John!

Mathew the tax collector records it in the following way. “ This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” But Mark puts it more personal by saying, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

The Baptist may have seen the same thing but the message from heaven was not so much for others as it was for Jesus himself.  One must consider that if YHWH would give such a clear testimony of Jesus’ sonship what more will He do to assure you that you are His?

The entrance and continuance for the believer in the Kingdom of God is not something that must be guessed for or wondered about.  Jesus is fully capable of presenting Himself with such clarity that doubt is overcome by knowing.  A voice may not break forth from heaven or a dove lite on your shoulder but that chest-pounding confirmation of the Holy Spirit will arrest your heart and settle you into the absolute confidence that you are his!

His baptism will be his inauguration into his work.

Messiah has come!

Now it begins!

 


In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (ESV)

The Lap

IMG_0341

 

He is not a champion, no ribbons, no medals, but he occupies a place above multitudes because he is mine.  He came to us by way of the Veterinarian. Living in the streets of Guadalajara he was hit by a car and crawled into a friend’s restaurant broken, skinny afraid and alone.

His family was never found so he came to us and became a “Whitener.”  Meals were welcomed but such abundance was hardly known. You could tell by his protruding ribs.

He walked around those first few days in a daze.  Not really knowing who we were, cautious of the other dogs (who welcomed him to their bowl) he slowly began to adjust.  Through the process he latched on particularly to me. He would walk with us up the mountain and find his place at my feet.  But feet were not enough for him.  He soon found what he was looking for, a lap.

Now he owns it.

Bud is constantly by my side. He is there when I wake up and when I go to bed.  When we walk the mountain, Mandy, our Standard Poodle, will lead the way but Bud lags behind walking always by my side. The speed of the climb is not determined by Mandy but rather by his master.

When it comes time for a bath he grudgingly submits but when it is all over the play begins.  Nothing feels so good as being clean!

There were times when my work would cause me to be gone sometimes for weeks and weeks.  But he never despaired. Coming home after a long absence I would see his head outlined against the dark room peering out the window like he never left the whole time.  His head would begin to sway as his tail danced!  It looked like he was grinning. The door opens and I am greeted by pure joy!

Bud was not bought in a store or from a breeder, he was found and he seems to know it.  Always thankful for the slightest attention he lives for one thing, me!

My friend has taught me much. For many of us there were no accolades in our past to warrant being chosen.  Instead, for most of us we came by way of the “Veterinarian,” broken, malnourished, afraid and abandoned.  Colliding with cruelty we found refuge by a stranger who took us in.  There were others that we found different from ourselves but they shared their “bowl” with us.  We had become one of them.

In this new environment it was evident that something mysterious had happened to us.  We didn’t know what it was called but we knew it was real. Things were different. But most of all, the one thing that stood above all the rest was this “Stranger” who took me in.  We began to hear his voice.  His smell became familiar.  His spanking was hard but so were his hugs.

At times we could not find Him.  Long periods of absence were dark times but hope kept us at the window. There was no interest in the “bowl” or in the fun of “walking the mountain.”  All that mattered was “When will I see Him again?”  And then….  From the dark street emerges the One I love!  Our hearts skipped a beat and we could hardly wait for the door to open.

In He walks.  Majestic, filled with hugs and kisses we sit without formality rolling on the carpet. The long wait is over. He is here!

The lap!

It is on the lap where His hands just rest upon you, were you kiss them. It is there where you smell His breath, hear his breathing and stare at His face.

On the lap I am safe!

On His the lap I am home!

Controlled Substance

big-grace

TEXT:
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight”
( ESVST)

This verse is deeply profound, filled with meaning that we may all to frequently over look. It announces the unimaginable riches of His grace being lavished upon us beyond all limits. This gift super abounds! It exceeds a fixed number and speaks of extravagant excess. It is the amply Divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in daily living! And… it leads to redemption through a sacrifice, namely, the sacrifice of Christ’s blood.

It was the ”Riches of His grace” that inundated earth to bring men to Christ. No back alley, no homeless shelter, no corporate boardrooms, no elementary or college classroom, no place on earth finds escape from this divine invasion!

Yet, this infinite grace is not haphazardly cast upon us. It is not just a general “blessing” of sorts that is poured out without consideration. As a matter of fact Paul points out that great attention has been given to its distribution. Paul says it like this, “…In all wisdom and insight.” In other words He has given the abundance of the riches of His grace within the boundaries of His wisdom and insight. It is clearly seen that this gift was a deliberate and wisely calculated one.

You might call it a “Controlled Substance.” Given to aid, given to heal, given to save but given under strict guidelines and limitations, namely His wisdom and insight.

Looking at this I stand in even greater awe at the substance of His grace. It puts my salvation in a new perspective; I see what I did not see. Perhaps that is what Paul means in the next verse when he says, “Making known to us the mystery of His will…”

Mystery is uncovered and revealed to be Christ Himself.

So grace is not like a Christmas gift that was bought as a second thought or because of a sale. It is a gift with immeasurable thought behind it. This lavished grace is calculated and corralled by infinite wisdom, divine insight and mysterious love.

Enjoy it. Revel in it and… handle it carefully.

Controlled Substances require great care!

JWIII


In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight (ESV)

Going to Bethany

holy-land--bethany-munir-alawi  2

 Perceptions are quirky things. They are conclusions formed through our personal experiences – history – prejudices – fears – knowledge and hopes.

Sometimes they are accurate and sometimes they are not.  Nevertheless these perceptions are the end results of a unique filtering system that each one of us has, even Thomas!

The scene.  Jesus has been told that his friend Lazarus is dead. He deliberately waits two more days before starting out to Bethany. Earlier in the week Jesus and his disciples had escaped out the hands of an angry mob that tired to arrest him and kill him.  The event of the angry riot is still fresh on everyone’s mind.  The “mob” is an unpredictable thing.  It can be a passive assemblage of people and then turn into a dangerous weapon within minutes.  The disciples had seen its fury before and now Jesus says, “We’re going back!”

When Jesus speaks there is no discussion, no arguments to change the Master’s mind.  They know by now that He is not following the “whims” of man or desires of His own but rather His steps are to fulfill the will of His Father.

Vs. 16, “Then Thomas called the twin said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let us go that we might die with Him.”

Perception!

His mind filters the Master’s command and all he sees is the crowd’s anger, Jesus bent on returning and a funeral for thirteen men.

But Thomas has yet to learn that Jesus is no ordinary man.

Perhaps he considers, “Who is this Lazarus fellow that would put us and our Master at such high risk? Is this man worth dying for?”

But perceptions as we mentioned earlier can be flawed.  Jesus commands His death. He will give His life at the right time but not now!

Thomas doesn’t understand and neither do we.

Jesus goes back to the danger of the crowd to raise the dead not be the dead!

A whole different perspective has been discovered. The filter systems are unreliable.

This all so different!

This is no ordinary man!


Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (ESV)

Are You For Real?

Translated by the wonderful vehicle of imagination I find myself taking a short cut to work through the Colonnade of the Temple.  It’s a cold winter morning and I’m a little early. Might stop for a donut and coffee.   But what’s this?  A crowd has gathered around a man I’ve heard about. They seem to be listening to a speech or something.

The whole city is in a stir about this “Jesus” fellow.  Some believe he is the Messiah and others seriously doubt him. Regardless he’s an enigma, a mystery and most simply can’t figure him out.  I mean he speaks in riddles half the time yet he has healed many by nothing more than a touch or a word. There are a whole lot of people that think he really is the Messiah but I’m not sure about that.

Wait!  Someone is saying something to him.  I move closer so I can hear. A man begins speaking, one who obviously was a soldier at one time.  Missing a hand and wearing scars he asks, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ tell us!  Are you really the genuine thing?”  Heads nod and lean forward to hear what he has to say.

Such anticipation has grown for decades!  We have been a suffering people for centuries and our last real glorious period was when David was king.  We read about it in school and dream of it for the future.  But since David we as a nation have been raped, pillaged and conquered by more powerful armies and frankly we are getting tired of it.  We thought Judas Maccabees would bring us out of this, years ago but it didn’t happen. It’s time for YHWH to send the Messiah.  I don’t think we can take Rome’s oppression, cruel treatment and heavy taxation much longer.

Listen!  He’s saying something!

“I told you already but you don’t believe me. The works that I do in my Father’s name speak louder than words. They tell who I am so go judge for yourselves.”

WHAT! I heard what I would describe as an audible and collective ‘gasp’ of surprise and anger.  No one saw that coming.

A well-dressed businessman speaks up.  “Come on Jesus this is no time to play games. There are already many who think you are a mad man, a simple carpenter’s son living a delusional life, speaking mysteries and yet doing serious miracles among the sick and the deranged. We are confused, so come on and tell us. Are you the Messiah?

I watch Him! I look into His face and see glistening eyes that say silently, “You shall see!”

Then He leaves!

My day goes by in a daze as I rehash what I heard this morning on the way to work.  But it doesn’t end when I get home.  My life is now invaded by mystery. I have encountered the inexplicable.

Much later news began to circulate that Jesus could not be found in the tomb. Strange things had happened and the city was in a buzz.

I thought back to that day passing through the colonnade.

I remember the eyes, those silent eyes that seemed to say, “You shall see!”

Messiah has come!  And now the world will see!

 

JW III

 

 

Empty!

the-empty-tomb-george-richardson

 

It had been a bloody weekend. Their eyes had witnessed man’s ugliest cruelty thrusted upon a wholly innocent man. Tears still flowing – it is Resurrection Sunday!

Loss is about to be replaced with infinite abundance – sorrow is about to be swallowed by a joyful mystery.

They go to the tomb. Their minds swirl with the events of the past week.  “Surely they have taken Him away!” Then they peer inside.

He is gone but not taken!

As John entered the darkness of the tomb it is said he saw and he believed, but they did not understand.  Believing and understanding, two unique things.  Interesting.

The dominant powers put high value on understanding.  We seek it, pay a high price for it and boast about it, but these men Believed and yet did not understand.

Here the knife cuts between men and children.  Men must know, have the answers, but children in their innocent ignorance believe.  They believe in fairies and in Santa Claus, the dog that can talk and the man in the moon.  We chide them for their simplicity but THEY BELIEVE!

Gladly though the story does not end there. Peter and John return home while Mary lingers.  She is engulfed in sorrow, tears wet her robe.

The world is black and cold.  Her heart is pierced.  Then she looks into the tomb and sees what others did not.

Two Angels.

“Why are you weeping, “ They asked?

Heaven is about to announce a most earth-shaking announcement.

Jesus speaks.

He is risen!

Without any doubt the kings of the earth will try to cover it up- discount it somehow, but it will never be ignored.

Earth will never be the same again!

The tomb is empty!

Only two responses are adequate here.

Believe and linger long!

JW III

 

Truth or Slogan

truth or Slogan

 

Our experience is smothered in slogans.  We design them, embrace them, market them and distinguish ourselves with them.  Put simply, we carry the brand we like.

This “Hip Abbreviation” has spilled over into a church that has tried to become relative to a disjoined society. Now we try to attract others by being “cute.”

There is a reason for this. Information floods over us at an incredible speed and great quantity and we need a filter of sorts to weed it all out, hence, the need for slogans.

Commercials, political parties, and brands all jostle to invade what limited intellectual and spiritual space we have with their images and promises.  We pick them up, as Willard Dallas says,  “Like a dark suit picks up lint.”  But like the lint slogans have that serious potential to distract from truth.  The lint seems to capture the eye while the suit goes unnoticed.

Their invasion is very, very effective.  So, we emulate the world with our catchy phrases in both speech and writing.

In essence we code the Truth!

The danger with all of this is Truth is so infinitely greater than can be codified in a catchy phrase.  Truth simply cannot be contained in a “bumper sticker,” a “tweet” or a religious jingle.  It deserves much more attention, more consideration and great care. But we continue trying to reduce it into a brief symbol of words.  Venues like Face Book or Twitter or even this blog reinforce the need to be brief and consequently, shallow.  But this remains our challenge, to express the vastness of truth in limited words.

It is my observation that cuteness and superficiality is a scourge of our times.  They may be fine for a bit of humor or even to muse upon for a while but they offer no ballast in turbulent waters.  There exist no lasting stability or strength in them when the enemy raises his ugly head in mortal battle.

Our faith rests on something more than a catchy phrase.  It rests on the Infinite Word uttered from the mouth of YHWH and seen in the life of His Son Jesus.

Now, try to put that in a slogan!

We are challenged!

 

JW III

The Table

The Text

 

They come to the table each with a degree of hunger. Some with more than others but it is hunger that drives them onward in the search. Manners don’t matter here. What matters is satisfaction!

The book is opened and words are read that echo another reality.

Hearts race and the soul is fed!

Such is our time each Thursday night as several of us gather around I Thessalonians.

But knowledge is not enough. Light is meant to guide not entertain. So, we ponder, “How do we put such jewels of truth into practice?”

Our lives are enriched while our behavior slowly changes to that which was once only “letter” but now has become “Manna from Heaven!” My being absorbs heavenly nutrition and I literally “Become what I eat!”

Dinner was good!

 

JW III