Monday, July 20, 2020

Truth

Jesus told them:  "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but wiall have the light of life."  The Pharisees complained, "You are bearing witness about yourself;  your testimony is not true."  Jesus answered, "Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you don't know these things...
                                                                      John 8:12-14

Jesus comes as a witness, about himself and about God.  His truth comes from the Father:

"I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me."  (verse18

Jesus' truth comes through the Father and has its beginnings and endings in the Father.  In fact, Jesus claims to be the very evidence of the Father.  If you know Jesus (and the truth he tells) then you know the Father and His truth.

With competing priorities and half-truths (i.e. lies) continually around us, we need foundational truth.  This includes half-truths about our very identities.  Thus, truth becomes significant in our thoughts about our value and worth and thus our identity.  

As "Word of God," Jesus expresses God's foundational truth.  This can be seen in his teaching, his life, his death and resurrection.  This Word include what is accepted as Scripture formally and what is revealed by Jesus Holy Spirit, which he promised.  I must live by this pentultimate truth.

Thank you, Lord, for Jesus, your written Word and the continued conversations.  I need you, Father, every moment!

Friday, July 10, 2020

Identity

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on (get comfortable, button up, wear well) a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

As companions, bear with one another (stand together) and, even if a complaint, forgive each other.  In the same fashion as the Lord has forgiven you, you must forgive each other.

Above all this, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.  Colossians 3:12-14

Paul wants us to know who we are and whose we are, chosen with purpose by God.  Purposefully chosen and called to a purpose that can demonstrate His character to the world.  We are to get comfortable with the traits of His chosen people.  Wear them well, display them elegantly.  The Greek word is one of getting a robe put on correctly and getting comfortable in its layers.  The metaphor is perfect.

How might I get comfortable with compassion - letting my heart go out to others?  How might I be practiced in demonstrating kindness to all which whom I come in contact?  The robe I wear is not one of my own doing - making or earning - so being humble in this sacred role as chosen one, I must embrace. I must practice;  I must become "at home" in this role.  Whatever else I must take off or lay aside so that my own ego and personality might not keep me from gentleness or patience, I must!

My identity has changed.  I am no longer the rebellious one.  No longer the rogue warrior.  Now my identity originates from God's definitions and joins with His other chosen ones, because our level of interaction is further proof of this identity, which is not an individual one, but a communal one.  How I stand with my fellow appointees, especially in the application of love with each other, reveals the truth about me, the truth about the origins of my identity and my commitment to living out this role, which I gather from God and His truth about me.

Anything which tries to draw me away from these truths is suspect.  Anything which distracts me from my purpose is disposed of.  And actually, Paul gives us a way to identify the ways which will keep us focused as he continues:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts...be thankful...let the word of Christ dwell with you, teaching and admonishing one another...and whatever you do, whether word or deed, do in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God....(verses 15-17)

Gratitude is the lead and follower in this chosen life!  What an honor!  What an opportunity!   What a high calling that should give us pause and power, to the glory of the one and only Son of God!




Saturday, June 27, 2020

In a Pandemic

It's Saturday.  The day following the Crucifixion.  All hope has been wrenched away.  Terror reigns over what is left.  

We know what the disciples did not:  Resurrection is coming.  It's the last thing on their minds.  They are shaken.  They are hiding.

After our own peace is gone, when some terror invades our day and we are in the space of unknowns, the space of affliction, are we holed up somewhere like the disciples were?  Like them, are we stunned into paralysis?

But resurrection is coming!  When Jesus appears, there is disbelief and shock and there is glory!  Suddenly, so much is revealed:  the truths Jesus spoke about now seem real to the disciples. Eternity looks different.  Not only is He alive, but the disciples are enlivened.  They and the world will never be the same.

This is our Saturday.  Instead of cowering in fear, what if we looked for the glory of God?  Could a new reality emerge that would give us a new way to live?  Understandably, we cannot foresee on this, our Saturday, what may be brought to life later, but let's take this Saturday to grieve, heal and anticipate.  Especially, to look for that which would give glory to God!

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Our Faith...

Our faith is in 
God the Maker
     Seen in creation
     Revealed in Scripture
     Experienced within,

Jesus His Son
     Known through his life
     Revealed in Scripture
     Experienced within,

The Holy Spirit
     Known in history
     Revealed in Scripture
     Experienced within.

For the Word of God in scripture
     within us
     among us
     reveals a living and active God.

Spirit of the living God,
Fall fresh on me.
Bless me.
Bless those in the world.
Bless us through this day.
Let us be part of the revealed and experienced love of God.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Busted!

John 8:2-11


Early in the morning, Jesus came again to the temple.  All the people came to him and he sat down and taught them...

Here is Jesus asserting himself as teacher and many gave him an audience.  He is in the middle of several  teaching opportunities and confrontations with the religious leaders during the time of the Festival of Shelters, a time of celebration and gratitude by the Jewish nation.  He had hesitated to go at first, because he knew he was a marked man, but in his own time he went.  And in his own time, he took his seat and began teaching.  In the middle of the feast. In full view of the crowds and the religious elite.

After a couple of days of this, the religious leaders vacillated between awe and feeling threatened, so they plotted a public entrapment:

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and placing her in the midst of the crowd, they said to him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery..."

While they sought to condemn her, their real intention was to trick Jesus into some heresy or blasphemy by which they could have some charge to bring against him (vs 6).  As Jesus has been demonstrating his power and authority to set the standard in his teaching, the religious authorities recognized the power he held and wanted to subvert it, if possible.

I love how he was clever enough to not be tricked by their obvious question:  "Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women.  What do you say?"

Jesus turns it into a judgment on the Pharisees and scribes:  turning the condemnation they tried to exert onto the woman, instead, onto themselves.  Jesus calls out the real perpetrators of the crime in this case:  male, religious, a patriarchal and misogynist culture.  He knows that the woman  is a victim of gender placement in the minority culture of womanhood.  He has compassion for her.

"Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." 

There it is!  Busted!  The condemned cannot condemn others.  Jesus didn't judge them, he let them judge themselves.  He let them own their truth about their own positional righteousness (or lack thereof).  

One by one, they slipped away.  How many of them might have actually used this sex slave, as all prostitutes are?  How many of them realized the eyes that were on them from the crowd, who had also bore the religious elite's high-minded judgments? 

Remember the marginalized and how their victim status might be perpetuated by your own actions.  Be careful how you judge others:  it could be the standard by which you are judged.  It's time we all came clean and told the truth about ourselves, at least to ourselves.

  


Thursday, May 28, 2020

Get muddy!


5-year-old Jude had a hard day.  He'd managed to be in 3 timeouts by 2:00pm.  The usual pleasures offered him, he turned away with disdain:  no blow-up pool could substitute for the new pool at his house; the park was mundane and not worth the walk (even though I offered to drive us).  He had hoped for the company (distraction) of the neighbor kids, but they were gone for the day.

He decided the sprinkler felt good.  The bubble maker was a good choice:  he could have the bubbles all to himself.  Then, he was reminded of the place behind the garage where he could get dirtiest and engage his imagination unfettered:  the sand path lined with stones.

With a "digger" in hand and some sand toys, he could devise cities, individual lives of sea creatures or totems to an underground army.  So, he dug, buried stones, piled stones.  He and his grandfather, who leisurely accompanied Jude, discussed whatever possibilities existed in the day. I half-listened from a bench nearby.

Suddenly, I pay attention to a question Jude asks:  "Is gravity everywhere?"
"Yes," I answer.
"Well, not here," he says.  I look up to see him lightly skip-dancing down the path.

He found his happy place.

He was wet and sandy. Holes were dug in the path.  Rocks were half-buried in the path.  Muddy handprints on the garage.  It might be not be pretty, but it was beautiful.

He had found his happy place.

Where might we find our happy place in a day of discontent?  Do we need the discourse of our Father?  To dig deep into the usual well-kept parts of our lives?  Make a mess? Get dirty?  Find your happy place.  Be sure to get a good hosing afterwards.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Welcome!

"Look, you scoffers! Be shocked to death!
For in your days I am doing a work,
a work you will never believe, 
even if someone tells you plainly!" (from Habakkuk)

Paul and Barnabas prepared to leave the synagogue, but the people wanted to hear more and urged them to return the following Sabbath. As the people dispersed after the meeting, many Jews and converts to Judaism follow Paul and Barnabas.  Paul and Barnabas continued teaching them privately and urged them to remain steadfast in the grace of God.  The next Sabbath, it seemed the whole city had gathered to hear the message of the Lord.  But some of the Jewish leaders were jealous when they saw these huge crowds.  They argued with Paul and Barnabas about their teaching.

Paul and Barnabas responded with great confidence:  It was only right that we should bring God's message to you Jewish people first.  But now, since you are rejecting our message and, by doing so, identifying yourselves as unworthy of eternal life, we are turning to outsiders (Gentiles).  Remember the Lord's words:

I have appointed you a light to the nations beyond Israel,
so you can bring redemption to every corner of the earth...."

Acts 13: 41-52

Paul asserts that the good news is for all.  Jesus came to complete the work of the Jewish nation: salvation for all.  They failed; He prevailed.

I am sometimes like the Jews, presuming the message is personal, when it is also universal. This causes me to question myself.

Do I take for granted that the salvation message is for me and mine, for getting the universality of God's intention?  Do I look on certain groups as outside the circle of "privilege" of being a member of God's household?  Do I keep others out with my exclusivity?  Let it not be so!  

Help me to provide comfort where ever it is needed!  Let my life be an example of Christ's offer to come into the family!

Welcome!