Archive for ‘Gospel’

June 28, 2010

If I Had Written It…

You ever wonder about what you would change in your favorite books? I do all the time. I thought I might share a few:

  1. Curious George Goes to the Hospital: Everyone knows animals go to veterinarian hospitals, not people hospitals!
  2. Snow White: The seven dwarfs adopt Snow White resulting in Prince Charming having to ask all seven for permission to take Snow White’s hand in marriage. He never gets passed Dopey, who can’t seem to grasp Prince Charming’s request. After seven days of futile pleading Prince Charming stumbles away disheartened. Snow White doesn’t leave her room for a month, after which she dies an old spinster patching mining clothes till the end of her days.
  3. Da Vinci Code: All historical dates and references would be accurate.
  4. White Fang: White Fang loses his fight with the pit-bull.
  5. Alice in Wonderland: The rabbit never could find the hole.
  6. Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Goldilocks isn’t picky. She eats everything and sleeps everywhere. The Bears, it turns out are very picky, and whimper in a corner until she leaves.
  7. The Hound of the Baskervilles: Really is a hound from Hell. Now that is scary!
  8. The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan , Athos, Aramis, and Porthos realize that “All for one and one for all” should translate into “run for the hills and lets hide together.”
  9. Slaughterhouse Five: The Tralfamadorians don’t push the button and so it goes.
  10. The Gospel of Jesus Christ: I can do enough good on my own so that God saves me by acknowledging that my ledger is more positive than negative.

Wow! I guess these books really are better without my help.

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April 20, 2010

The Weight of the Cross

Many times I have considered the weight of the cross as Jesus bore it. By that I don’t mean just physical weight, say 250 lbs or whatever; rather, I have in view the ontological weight. By that I mean the weight that came with becoming a substitute for us when he who knew no sin became a curse for us who are by our fallen nature sinners. In one sense I don’t think we will ever fully grasp the immense cost (i.e. weight) of this act – even after God brings things back to rights in the future. For all eternity we will dwell and we will grow immensely in our knowledge and understanding of Jesus’ sacrifice due to our exposure to God’s holiness, but I doubt that we as finite beings will ever grasp that which is infinite in value becoming a sacrifice and then the turmoil it must have caused in his being as God Jesus took on the task of the cross.

At the same time, I think it is an appropriate exercise to consider this question because Scripture gives us hints which communicate the depths of the pain and suffering that Jesus went through on the cross. For example, we know that Jesus cried “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46, Mk 15:34) And this one example is one apple in a barrel of examples of excruciating biblical examples that pound into us the reality that the cross was a cosmically cataclysmic difficult task that the Son of Man carried out.

In my devotional time there is a thought that has brought me closer to grasping this weight perhaps more than any other. To set it up, you have to understand how Jewish thought worked throughout biblical times. Specifically I have in view the way Hebrews would communicate superlatives in Hebrew and then by extension in thought even if they were speaking in Aramaic or Greek.

While Ancient Hebrew also shares many of the same linguistic tools we have to show emphasis and make superlatives comparisons/statements they also utilized something we don’t – namely, they would repeat the word twice in a row. For example, in Psalm 148:4 creation is instructed to “Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!” The phrase “highest heavens” is what has my attention here. In Hebrew, it reads woodenly  “heaven heaven” or “sky, sky” depending on context. The idea is even to the highest heights imaginable, even these heights are under God’s sovereignty and thus are due to give him praise. What I want you to get from this is the superlative nature of the use of the repetitive nature of the syntax. Specifically, there is no higher heaven than that which the Hebrew has in mind. It is an “est” superlative, not an “er” one – like “strongest” not “stronger.” Does that make sense? I hope so, because you have to get this clarification to go where I’m going and I want you to come on this journey with me.  (Cf Dt 10:14; 1 Kgs 8:27;  2 Chr 6:18; Neh 9:6. Oh, also check out Gen 2:17 where “die” is repeated twice in the Hebrew at the end making a very interesting statement about what kind of death comes with eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.)

In the Old Testament we have a multitude of various ideas that are furthered like this – and we even see it evidenced in Jewish thought in the New Testament. This is what is happening when Jesus says the powerful proclamation of “truly, truly” throughout the Gospels. This is lagniappe, but worth the diversion – in the first century after a rabbi would issue a teaching the listening rabbis, scribes and religious leaders would say “amen” (meaning truly; its the same word Jesus says – gives depth to when you say “amen”) giving their seal of approval on the teaching. Then the common listener would accept the teaching as trustworthy. But when Jesus says “Amen, amen” at the beginning of his teachings he is making a declarative statement in both its placement in the teaching and his repeating of it. Jesus means to communicate that he speaks truth and has authority to validate its authenticity without the input of the religious leaders. It was shocking to hear for the first century Jew. (Back from the rabbit trail) What it does for us is show that this thinking was still very much part of Jewish communication even when speaking in Aramaic or Greek.

Back to the Old Testament, there is only one attribute of God that gets the superlative royal treatment and that is God’s holiness. And it is not repeated twice in a row, but three times in a row! It is the Hebrew superlative of all superlatives. The Bible doesn’t claim “God is love, love, love” nor does it say that “God is mercy, mercy, mercy” nor does it say that “God is justice, justice, justice” but it does say that God is holy, holy, holy. Isaiah 6:3 gives us that grand picture in the throne room of Heaven where the Seraphim are crying out, “And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!'”

I lament my inability to convey the depth and width of this amazing claim that communicates to us just how holy God is because we struggle to grasp holiness in all its otherness to what we are, but to get sin you must first get God’s holiness. And of course, this is where any hope of understanding the weight of the cross must begin. It is not by accident then that there is a connection between holiness and glory, for glory in Hebrew has behind it the sense of weight literally carrying the connotation of heaviness. God’s glory is a heavy thing indeed.

With this in mind, now perhaps hear the precious words of the world’s only Savior as he tells us how much our sins weighed upon him with the looming cross drawing ever nearer. Matthew 26:37-45

And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled.  Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.”  And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.

Many things from this text are important – the fact that Jesus is looking for comfort and encouragement from his human companions, some of the very sheep for whom he will be slaughtered, and their constant inability to stay away after having their fill of food and wine from the passover feast.  But I want to focus on his time with his father as he comes before the Father’s throne. The very purpose he came to earth about to culminate into the climax of the cross – a path God had set before the foundation of the world and something Jesus did willingly and of his own volition. No one made him give up his own life; it was his to give and he gave it of his own accord. But the joy of the cross as it was set before him was the conquering of death. But now, in the Garden of Gethsemane the looming of the pain of his anticipation of being a substitutionary atonement who is sacrificed while incurring a debt that was not his brought a weight that caused him to the superlative of all superlatives. It is by no mistake we are given a different superlative this night – where Peter denies to the third degree, but Jesus will not deny the Father. Still, he comes into communion with the Father and asks not once, not twice but three times that the cup of the cross pass from him.

How much did the cross weigh on Jesus’ mind? More than anything has weighed on the mind of anyone else ever. It is the superlative that conveys the weight of the cross as only a Jew could communicate. “Take this cup from me!” Again, “Take this cup from me!” and again, “Take this cup from me.” What can conquer such a burden? How does Jesus fight through this terrible anxiety that he is experiencing?

“But not my will be done, but yours.”

Again, “Not my will be done, but yours.”

And again, “Not my will be done, but yours.”

And yet again for a fourth time for that is what is behind Jesus words when he says “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.”

March 28, 2010

Crazy Week

Never has the world experienced a week comparable to the week of Calvary. The man who impacted history more than any other rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. Satire couldn’t come up with a more seemingly comical scene than the invisible God who spoke the universe into existence as one who rode into Jerusalem on a dusty and rocky road on the back of an ass while people hailed “Hosanna! Hosanna!” while throwing palm leaves and coats upon the ground to mark his royal entry.  Striking is this is the closest his creation comes to praising him, honoring him and giving him his due. The rest of the week has its tumultuous turns offering emotional highs and lows – the trashing of the money changers, the establishment of the observance of the new covenant as the ultimate completion of the passover Seder, all his disciples abandoning him, Peter denying him, Judas betraying him, the sweating of blood under the yoke of the cross placed before him, the illegal arrest and criminally unjust trial, torture, whipping, beating, spitting, gambling, general disregard, carrying the immense weight of the cross, handing his mother over to John for care, experiencing the penalty of wrath as an innocent, his Father forsaking him and many other things. It strains my conceptual abilities to consider the anxiety of the knowledge of the heavy pain of sin placed upon his righteous shoulders while experiencing the immense relief to be able to say simultaneously “It is finished.” The plan that was formed and followed through before the foundation of the world was finished – at the perfect time completed. There he sweats, bleeds and breathes his last while hanging on a deplorable splinter-fest of an icon that rightly becomes an image reminding all of the evils people can imagine. But this icon becomes a symbol of hope as Passion Week ends with an empty tomb and the Prince of glory resurrected from the dead.  So what week can compare to this week which we begin to celebrate? The week that includes the day when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Savior and God – both the living and the dead. While I was not in Jerusalem some two thousand years ago I look longing toward the one I will be at in the future as I celebrate the new covenant – a covenant I can never break because it is bound in Jesus’ blood and righteousness from faith through grace in Jesus to all those who would believe.

March 23, 2010

Thinking of Leaving Church?

The discussion concerning when to leave a church is an interesting one. Typically when asked by people on how to determine criteria for picking a church (which also means leaving another one)  I generally give two basic criteria. The first is that the church needs to be a church that correctly handles God’s Word, meaning they preach and teach the Gospel as presented in Scripture. They need to be practitioners of the Gospel and then propagators of the Gospel. Get the emphasis – Gospel, Gospel, Gospel!!! The second is the criteria of compulsion – has God given you compulsion that this is a church you MUST do ministry through?

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February 23, 2010

Speechless

Comfortable Christian in America? Then you owe it to yourself to watch these videos. A couple of warnings: 1. These are graphic videos. 2. Don’t watch them if you have any other responsibilities in the next 30 minutes. All together they will run for about eleven minutes, but I pray the impact leaves you planted and rooted in prayer for the rest of that half hour. I’ll be shocked if it doesn’t.

One other word before you watch these videos. Counting the Cost has been a theme for me lately. Luke 14:26-35 being the text that has led this charge. I find this text popping up everywhere. Multiple sermons by different pastors, using it as a theme in our evangelism time on Wednesdays this semester, coming across it in books, but most importantly the Holy Spirit has laid the necessity of its truth in everyday life upon me in an almost incarnational way.   Jesus speaks

If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters– yes, and even his own life– he cannot be My disciple.  Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.  “For which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?  Otherwise, after he has laid the foundation and cannot finish it, all the onlookers will begin to make fun of him,  saying, ‘This man started to build and wasn’t able to finish.’  “Or what king, going to war against another king, will not first sit down and decide if he is able with 10,000 to oppose the one who comes against him with 20,000?   If not, while the other is still far off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.  In the same way, therefore, every one of you who does not say good-bye to all his possessions cannot be My disciple.  “Now, salt is good, but if salt should lose its taste, how will it be made salty?  It isn’t fit for the soil or for the manure pile; they throw it out. Anyone who has ears to hear should listen!

Count the cost.

Vodpod videos no longer available. Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Persecution in India: Unedited Footag…“, posted with vodpod

February 2, 2010

The Private verses the Public: Pausing to Consider Proof of Salvation

How do I know that I’m saved? That is a question I’ve heard with regularity throughout my ministry. It is a vitally important question and doesn’t belong on the heap of theological treatises that have no practical application in life. I come back to this conversation because of a few events within the past few months that keep bringing up just how important this discussion is and how it seems that American Christianity has an aversion to the biblical answer.

Event 1: I got in a dialogue concerning Lordship Salvation recently with a brother-in-Christ. His concern was that we require too much from people to be saved. All they have to do is believe on the Lord and confess with their mouth that God raised Jesus from the dead and they will be saved! True enough, but the culture that the New Testament was written in didn’t have the oversimplified view of belief that we tend to adopt today. I read somewhere recently the term “faithing” instead of “believing” to emphasize the difference because it is a belief that results in a life of faith. A life of faith means a life of action. (To be clear – this is not a discussion of “Can a person lose her salvation” to which everyone in these discussions would give a resounding “no!”) So I finished the conversation this way:

Here’s a quick question: Does God tell us what/how he maintains his covenant relationship with us so that it remains intact? I wonder if a false dichotomy is being considered in this conversation in that assurance of our relationship with God and our Spirit-forged fruits are independent or incontinent in some respect. I think again of the term “accordance.” For example, Jeremiah 32:40 “I will make with them an everlasting covenant: I will never turn away from doing good to them, and I will put fear of Me in their hearts so they will never again turn away from Me.” So, at least, part of the answer is that the way God ensures a lasting covenant with him is by putting within us the desire to stay true to him, as opposed to be an adulteress in our covenant relationship with him. So, even though works do not obtain salvation they are in accordance with salvation and in this sense have eternal consequence and weight.

Event 2: In preparation for the evangelism class I teach I have done some real soul searching. The reality is that we can teach all the methodologies and theology behind evangelism, but that doesn’t mean we will do it. Why not? I think that the overarching reason is because we are not engaging in self inventory when we are exposed to Scripture on the subject. When our pastor is preaching, our teacher is teaching or we are studying Scripture we are nodding our heads in all the right spots, but we aren’t taking Scriptural teaching to heart. We aren’t taking it serious. We aren’t allowing the light to shine on our own dark deeds. For example, the overwhelming descriptors of a life in Christ is a life of sacrifice and action. That is the difference between the sheep and the goats in the judgement of peoples in Matthew 25. We want to treat this like a parable, but Jesus says we will be like sheep and goats – it’s a simile. The problem is that we hear a text like this and nod our head thinking of the Pharisees in the New Testament so we can avoid taking an internal inventory ourselves.

Put these first two events together and we have the perfect Scriptural text that deals with the situation: James 2:14-19 “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.”

The reality is that if you are saved then you will have a life of works that are in accordance to your salvation, not the cause, but the affirmation. We’ll come back to this.

Event 3: On the way home last night I heard this sermon by John MacArthur.

Event 4: Recently I had another discussion with a dear brother-in-Christ (different than event 1) whom I love deeply. His earnestness and desire to grow in the Spirit are encouraging. We got into the discussion of how we communicate to people how to take inventory in their lives in order to have confidence that they are actually saved. I was propagating that we tell people to take serious inventory of our lives and if the external evidences aren’t there than we should be asking if we are saved at all. He wondered if it wasn’t better to highlight the private devotions rather than the public dealings. He rightly pointed out that people can use this instruction as an opportunity for legalism and abuse or dismiss grace. The reality is no matter how much we preach or teach that we are not talking about the cause of salvation (hence self righteousness and legalism) that some people just will not hear what we are saying. I wish I could prevent this danger but I cannot. On the flip side, when dealing with proof of salvation Scripture uses far more examples of external actions that are in accordance with our profession of faith rather than private settings of devotion and worship. In fact a couple of places in Scripture address that this is a false dichotomy. I call it the false dichotomy of private versus public. It is a false dichotomy that thinks our private life of devotion can be proof of our enduring faith in the Lord while our public life offers no such proof. I would say that this dichotomy is not biblical. Two Scripture texts that help us here: First, let us consider Isaiah 1.

God starts out this way as he speaks to his chosen people (don’t miss that): Isaiah 1:2-10 Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; For the LORD speaks, “Sons I have reared and brought up, But they have revolted against Me…But Israel does not know, My people do not understand.”  Alas, sinful nation, People weighed down with iniquity, Offspring of evildoers, Sons who act corruptly! They have abandoned the LORD, They have despised the Holy One of Israel, They have turned away from Him…Hear the word of the LORD, You rulers of Sodom; Give ear to the instruction of our God, You people of Gomorrah.”

Just so we get this, whatever God’s people did it made them comparable to Sodom and Gomorrah (Hint: It was not homosexuality). What we need to get is the seriousness here.

There is a pause between 1.10 and 1.11. The pause is the protestations of God’s people. They are crying out to God “What do you mean we’ve revolted against you O Lord? We are taking care of the temple! We are making all the sacrifices! We give a tithe! We come to your house singing your praises!” In our day we would translate the protestations to “What do you mean we’ve revolted against you O Lord? We are doing our bible study and daily quiet times! We go to church every Sunday and Wednesday! We give more than most! Our worship times are dynamic and uplifting! Our preacher preaches from your Word every Sunday and steps on all our toes! Surely we are not in revolt against the Lord.”

And this is God’s response to them and us: Isaiah 1:11-17 “What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?” Says the LORD. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle; And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats. “When you come to appear before Me, Who requires of you this trampling of My courts? “Bring your worthless offerings no longer, Incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies– I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly. “I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts, They have become a burden to Me; I am weary of bearing them. “So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood. “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.”

Today his rebuke is more like “What is your life of sacrifice to me? I have had enough of your fasting. Your coming to church week after week is offensive to me. Your come from the sewage plant with muddy boots and wipe the filth on the sactuary’s carpet. You say you give an overwhelming amount of money and time, but you have more time and money than anyone ever has had in the history of the world and your self-congratulatory pats on the back show your ignorance. I don’t want your money or time anymore. It is offensive to me. Your Easter Passover celebrations, Christmas Cantatas and Fall Festivals are burdensome. I grow weary of them. When you prostrate yourselves in prayer I’m not listening. I know you are praying a lot, but I’m still not listening. Wake up call: You hands are covered with blood! This is what I’m trying to get through to you. Y’all are doing evil in my sight. You are doing evil in the fact that you aren’t doing good. When I say do good I’m not talking about your worship services or private devotions I’m talking about the tangible things: Help the poor and defend the helpless. The widows and orphans in your city have turned to state and federal governments to do what I have called you to do.”

Second, is Revelation 20:12 “And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.”

Consider the plural “books.” I am amazed in my ministry how often Christians discover this syntactical fact in Revelation. We grow up learning all about the Lamb’s Book of Life, but NOT the Book of Deeds. The books are in accordance with one another. So just because deeds don’t save they do confirm that you are saved. But now ask yourself “Why do most Christians in America not know about the second book?” And the answer is the false dichotomy of private and public and a misunderstanding of biblical belief. In America we are all about making it easy, which means getting your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, but ease does not coincide with doing hence we say very little about the onus of responsibility that comes with being saved.

January 27, 2010

Why Beggars Beyond Our Door?

Why change the blog name from “Out of Season,” which fits within the normalcy of blog titles to “Beggars Beyond Our Door,” which admittedly sounds a bit archaic? The answers lies, in part, in what a blog title does for me, which is it aspires me to who I want to become. Generally blog titles seem to fall into two categories: 1) Who I am and 2) Who I Hope to Be.  My approach has been to reflect who I hope to be.  Therefore the two following reasons are the overarching influences in this name change.

1. “Out of Season” corresponds to 2 Timothy 4:2 where Paul instructs us to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. ” In many ways this has been my pastoral passion – to be bold and preach God’s Word. But it also reflected a desire to be witty. By choosing a title like “Out of Season” a “me against the world” mentality can take place. Well, the truth is that I don’t think God gives a flip about my wit, nor does he care for my individualistic mentality.

2. On the other side, ministry is much more than just preaching and teaching. In fact, I would dare say that a pastoral passion necessitates taking action with our words. I must not be a hearer and speaker only, but a doer. I turn through God’s word and am convicted for action as part of the Gospel. Of course we all know this, but I fear, explain it away in little ways with our lives so that we continually fall into mediocrity. But the proclamation of the Gospel continually means a lifestyle of self sacrifice, make yourself available to uncomfortable positions and going to those who know they need help. People like beggars. So the title change is an effort to remind me – and you – that there are beggars outside our door. What are we going to do about it?

January 25, 2010

Name Change

I have changed the name of my blog from “Out of Season” to “Beggars Beyond Our Door.” While changing the title of a blog is not a life changing event, this name change comes with many reasons. Perhaps I will post more as to why in the days to follow, but for now I will leave you with this: 

 “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” from 2 Corinthians 8:9.

January 22, 2010

Exigency in Evangelism

I’m an elitist. I don’t mean to be, but all my proclivities are oriented this way. By elitist I mean I’m a purist, not that I think I’m better than others. I’m in search for the most comfortable clothes, the best cup of coffee, the greatest novel, the most satisfying filet. It is a trap that matches my orientation towards perfection. I want to be perfect. Not in the sense that I look like God, but in the sense that I want everything to be precise, detailed, organized and controlled to the smallest minutiae. I want preparation to be in place prior to engaging in any given task.

This is highly problematic concerning evangelism. I want to have all the verses memorized, all the questions considered, the other person analyzed prior to engagement. This is why I am part of the problem. The great news of Jesus needs none of these things.

Two examples in Scripture help:  

The Samaritan Woman
The first is the Samaritan woman that Jesus meets at the well in John 4. After realizing that Jesus is God’s Savior for the world, she immediately leaves her water jug and goes back to her village to tell everyone she found the world’s much needed Savior (John 4.28-29). Her theological training was minimal and highly erroneous. She took no evangelism class. What she did have was a new found relationship with Jesus. She recognized who he truly is. It changed her.

I’m glad she didn’t get to me first. Perhaps I would have pulled her by the shirt tail back into the church to go over her strategy. Perhaps I would have asked her to wait until someone else could go with her. Perhaps I would have done some role playing with her until I beat the enthusiasm right out of her.

Isn’t the enthusiasm of a new believer a wonderful thing! They are so excited about the change that Jesus brings into their life they can’t help but share it with others. Us Christians who have been there and done that laugh to ourselves. Ha! Dare I say we are full of cynicism. “It will subside” we say. With an air of arrogance we tell these new believers to come under our wings and let us show them the ropes. Evangelism – proclamation of the great news of Jesus isn’t really that easy after all.

It reminds me of this women’s beauty product commercial. It starts out with a litany of medical doctors talking about recent studies showing the amazing healing powers of a newly discovered topical cream. What most people don’t notice is the small type at the bottom of the screen that says “Product advertised not part of the study conducted.” It’s a counterfeit.

Are we being counterfeits? Wisdom is suppose to come with age, but sometimes we get so stuck in our muck of disobedience that we explain it away as conventional wisdom. We refuse to see that it is the new believer who is wise, not ourselves. Here is this Samaritan woman showing us it is not about what we know, but who we know.

The Disciples
It is not as though you have to be a new believer to get this truth. There is another example in Scripture. I hope to live in this pattern. It is the example of Jesus’ disciples. Here these guys start of really excited about Jesus. They go out in twos to surrounding villages to proclaim the Great news (Mark 6:7). Peter even “reminds” Jesus how much they had sacrificed for him, leaving everything to follow after him (Mark 10:28-31). But unlike us, when the disciples encounter the amazing mercy of God it has a radical and permanent impact of a specific sort. Instead of losing steam and focus, they gain it. Instead of becoming cynical because of persecution, torture, death and countless “not interested” glib answers they become more determined. Instead of time wearing them thin they become more resolute, more concerned, more aware of the urgency of the matter. The disciples become more and more zealous as they get older. They become more determined, more outspoken, more bold. They look more like a new convert than a “mature” Christian. All but one of them die a martyr’s death. 

The Great news was real and more was on the line for them than for us. That is precisely the problem. We think we have put our lives in the wager of the great news of Jesus. Careful inventory will reveal we never threw in  our homes, cars, families, money, friends, hobbies, passions, time spent and passion in the wager. I guess we have not put our lives in the wager at all. Because we have gained nothing, we still have everything to lose. Put it all in. It is time to lose this wager in order to win the hand.

January 17, 2010

Life

Romans 6:22-23  But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

As a child of God the reward today is the reward for eternity – God. Life means dwelling with God. Life means intimacy with God. Life means being in his presence, singing his praises and growing in infinite joy infinitely. Life is hard to comprehend. And it is impossible to grasp. But by the sweet Name of Jesus, we have this great gift. It is the greatest gift because it is the gift where God gives himself to us.

God’s setting us free from sin is not a picture of being let out of a stable in unending pastures that roam every which way. There the panthers, wolves and bears roam. There others pretending to be good shepherds have their own flock where they hope to steal and imprison. God’s setting us free puts our feet on a paved road that leads to his household and the blessings of being his child. We are loved. We are safe. We are forgiven. We are declared innocent. We look more like our Father everyday.