27 November 2017

Jesus Wants Everything

Christ and The Rich Young Ruler - Hoffman
Luke 18:18-30

What if Jesus told me, "Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."? What would I do?

It's such a confronting statement, isn't it? What is it about how Jesus answers the question that is so confronting? 

Here I am typing on a keyboard, on my computer, having the time afforded me by being able to take care of my family during a mere 40-48 hours a week. I have the opportunity to use the remaining 104 hours in the waking week to do whatever I choose. Oh sure, I have other responsibilities to family, house, church and friends, but I can write this blogging project because I don't have to work nearly as hard for what I need as the majority of the world does. My time outside the office is my own to do as I choose. 

And, that's why when me and most of the brothers and sisters I know read this passage, it creates a defensive response. "Is this what Jesus is asking of me?" "Do I really have to do that much to follow Jesus?" Our reaction is the same as those who heard this in person, "Who then can be saved?"

02 February 2015

Jesus Blesses Children And Those Who Brought Them

Unknown Source
Mark 10:13-16

One clear fruit of following Jesus is the ability to worship with, share with, work with people of different economic status, skin colour, nationality, language, gender, marital status, abilities, personalities, talents, gifts, backgrounds, careers, intelligence and age. For some of us, some of the things that are listed seem silly to even have to discuss, ie. skin colour? really?, while others are quite challenging to navigate, ie language or personalities.

The challenging thing is that we are currently living in a transitional age. We are currently living in a we are almost there but not yet status in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus has come. Jesus has provided the bridge between us and our Father in heaven. But, he has not returned to make all things new yet. And so, it is quite reasonable to say that the church, the bride and body of Christ, is in her adolescent stage. We know what it is to be mature; we know what it looks like to be an adult in the kingdom of heaven (Jesus), but we still lack the wisdom and experience to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.

The church, therefore, at times looks quite awkward in living out what we are led to believe through the Word, following the Son while being led by the Spirit. In this case, to believe that all people are created equal because all people are made in the image of God. We are still transitioning from a world that creates artificial divisions to a kingdom that only makes one distinction: those who know the One, True God and the One He has sent and those who do not know the One, True God and the One He has sent.

And, so, as a church member and budding church leader, there are many battles that should be expected as we learn how to worship, share and work together. One battle that I did not expect, that has made me weary is the battle to worship alongside my children. No, I do not battle with my children, but the church.

22 January 2015

Jesus Says It's OK To Be Single

Sisters of Mercy - Calcutta India
Matt 19:1-12

"I don't think that we should be together. And, I've thought about it a lot and this is what's going to happen. OK. I'm going to keep pursuing what I'm pursuing. And, because I'm doing that, it's going to take up more and more of my time and I'm not going to be able to spend as much time with you. And, even when I do spend time with you, I'm going to be thinking about drumming. And, I'm going to be thinking about jazz music and my charts and all that. And because of that, you're going to start to resent me and you're going to tell me to ease up on the drumming and spend more time with you because you're not feeling important. And I'm not going to be able to do that. And, really, I'm going to start resenting you for even asking me to stop drumming and we're going to start hating each other. And, it's going to be, it's going to get very ugly. So, for those reasons, I'd rather just break it off clean." Andrew, Whiplash

If Andrew had said serving/loving God/others instead of drumming, then he would explain what Jesus meant by "there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it."

"No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other or he will be devoted to one and despise the other." In this context, Jesus was talking about money. But, I think these wise words can apply to any conflicting interest, including spouse and kingdom.

13 January 2015

Jesus Wants Proper Personal Perspective

The Pharisee and The Publican 
Luke 18:9-14

Every Christian is a sinner saved by grace.  Everyone else is a sinner who has not accepted his grace yet.  If there are any plaques that need to be placed in church, this should be the only one. 

Once again, the Bible is demonstrated not to be unclear on His teaching. We do not have to seek to far to understand what is about to be taught. Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, is quite clear, "To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable..."

The beginning of wisdom, the beginning of faith, the beginning of hope, the beginning of love is given by David, inspired by the Holy Spirit, "The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one."  To understand, believe and live this is to have a chance at more perfect, loving relationships with our Father in Heaven and with each other.

05 January 2015

Jesus Wants Us to Keep Praying for Justice

The Parable of the Persistent Widow - Unknown
Luke 18:1-8

"The time is coming where you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man."

Truer words were never spoken.

Why do bad things happen to good people? It's a profound question. It's a stated reason for many people not to believe the Living God. It's a question that the Bible has been asking for thousands of years. One of the reasons I listen to the Bible, that I appreciate God's Word, is it deals with reality. He doesn't flinch from it. He doesn't sugar coat it. He looks it square in the eye and explains how we can wisely live within the reality of our world.

It makes me itchy whenever I hear Western Christians lament that things are getting worse. Really? When one studies history, it does not take very long to read about injustice.

16 December 2014

Jesus Wants Our Focus

Lot's Wife - Lassetter Reeves
Luke 17:20-37

We have the wisest, most loving commander in the history of commanders. Good commanders give their subordinates information on a need-to-know basis. Our Father, through His Son, has given only the information that we need to know to those who place their faith, their trust, in Him.

In regards to His return, He gives us blinders and urges us to wear them. Blinders are given to many race horses. Blinders keep the horses focus on where they are going on where exactly they are supposed to strive toward in running the best race possible. Blinders keep the horse from becoming distracted by the other horses, by the cheering crowds, by whatever would keep that horse from the singular focus of running the race.

We Christians seem so easily distracted from walking after the Lord, from running the race. Some of us seem obsessed like Indiana Jones stooping excitedly over a map or through a book trying to match clues in order to find the treasure. We want to find the next prophet who will truly be able to point us toward the spiritual realm. We want to find out the specific identity of the Anti-Christ. We want to know the exact timing of how the apocalypse will occur. We want to be able to predict exactly when the Lord will return.

27 November 2014

Jesus Likes Seeing People Praising God

Luke 17:11-19

Lord, thank you for my life. Thank you for knitting me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for my health. Thank you that I don't know what it's like to have to go hungry. Thank you that I didn't grow up worrying about where I was going to sleep. Thank you for parents, grandparents, aunts and churches who taught me what it was like to be loved and safe. Thank you for a happy, innocent childhood. Thank you for parents who took seriously your gift and teachings on marriage. Thank you for parents who listened to you and raised me in your ways. Thank you for raising me in a nation that has allowed me to worship you without fear. Thank you for parents who valued all people, no matter their abilities, no matter their age, no matter their bank account, no matter where they live and taught me to do the same. Thank you for the gifts and abilities you have given to me. Thank you for the ability to serve in your kingdom and disciplining me to bless others the way you have blessed me. Thank you for your church. Thank you for teaching me the value of brothers and sisters who come alongside to help and spur on toward love and good deeds. Thank you for giving me a true partner in the ministry who takes seriously your gift and teachings on marriage. Thank you for four children who are growing up kind and loving with a true desire to love people the way you have loved them. Thank you for continued laughter. Thank you for the ability to sit with a grieving friend in silence. Thank you for each and every person you have placed in my sight that teach me another facet of the diamond of this world. Thank you for your communication with us given in your Word. Thank you for telling me exactly what you expect and the attitude I am to live with. Thank you for your Spirit that does what I am unable to do on my own - change for the better from the inside out. Thank you for your Son. Thank you that thousands of years later, he still answers the plea, "Jesus, master, have pity on us."

If you love people, you will be taken advantage. If you love people, you will be taken for granted. If you love people, not everyone you love will say "Thank You".

Do you know how I know this is true? Because often I forget how incredibly blessed I am and how much mercy He has shown to me.

At the start of the day, at the end of the day, don't forget to say thank you. Thank your family. Thank your friends. But,most of all, thank your Father in heaven.

Happy Thanksgiving!