WARNING - Work in Progress

WARNING - Work in Progress
WARNING - Work in Progress

Saturday, September 23, 2017

What Was It? – 9/24/2017


In Jesus Manifesto[1] authors Leonard Sweet & Frank Viola ask a very good question…

“What was it about Jesus that was so incredible, so captivating, and so compelling that it caused a former Pharisee to be totally enamored with Him?”[2]

As I am sure there are a number of ways this could (or should) be answered, I’m going to go out on a limb and offer my two-cents.

Jesus actually existed. 

Before he became known as the Apostle Paul, his name was Saul and he was an up and coming Pharisee; a Hebrew of Hebrews, an educated leader and teacher of the Jewish Law.  He made a name for himself going after and arresting Christians for their heresy of teaching people about Jesus. (Philippians 3:4-6)  On one occasion when Saul was traveling to Damascus to arrest Christians, he learned that the Lord Jesus Christ actually existed.

Acts 9:1-9

1Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, 

“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

I imagine a scene where a highly educated and powerful young college man was itching to make a name for himself by going on mission that would change his political position in the Jewish community forever.  His zeal for the Jewish faith was red hot and his youthful enthusiasm for his task had even caused him to oversee the death of one of the Christian church’s first deacons: Stephen. (Acts 7:54-8:2)  This task lead him to travel to Damascus in order to arrest the Christians there, but while on his was He is stopped by an angelic being.

Saul encountered this angelic being and fell to the ground hearing it ask him why he is persecuting him.

Saul asked “Who are you Lord?”

I am Jesus whom you are persecuting” was the reply.

This was huge!

The very first thing that Saul learned about Jesus was that He actually existed and was alive.  He knew Jesus was a spiritual teacher who had been arrested and executed on a Roman Cross in the past, and he had heard the rumors of Jesus’ resurrection from the grave, but like many other people, he did not believe that those rumors were true.

This event changed everything.  From that day forward, this youthful educated man became the greatest evangelist the early church had ever known.  Saul’s name changed to Paul and the rest of his life was to tell people about the dead man who had come back from the grave.

The Start of Change…

As the reality of the resurrection of Jesus became a fact in Paul’s mind, He was all in, and in my personal experience it was the same way.  No, my experience with meeting Jesus was not so eventful, but when the realization that Jesus was very much alive and active came to me in a very real and present sense, then I had no choice but to become aware of His awesome presence in every aspect of my life and world.  I could no longer ignore Him.  Spiritually, I had become new inside; I had become Born Again.

What will change your life? 

“It’s not the doctrine of the person of Jesus.  It’s an inward revelation of Christ in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.[3]  If you don’t know that Jesus is alive then seek Him.  The task of the Holy Spirit is to reveal to men the living savior, and I can attest that when you cry out to Him, Jesus will make himself known to you.

Matthew 7:7 & 8
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

[1] http://amzn.to/2yyWtza
[2] Sweet, Leaonard & Viola, Frank, Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sonvereignty of Jesus Christ (Nashville: Thomas Neslson, 2010) 24.
[3] Sweet, Leaonard & Viola, Frank, Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sonvereignty of Jesus Christ (Nashville: Thomas Neslson, 2010) 19.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Day I Met Jesus – 9/17/2017


There are certain things that will change the course of our lives in an instant; a marriage, the birth of our children, a near death experience, or a debilitating illness.  Then there are other things that slowly change the course of our lives such as education, community influence, social norms, and the like.  Each will drastically influence our beings and make us become what we become.

I am not devoid of such influences.  I know that I am a direct-result of the parenting that did or didn’t go into me, a product of my education and social influences, as well as a montage of messed-up ideas beat into my psyche by Hollywood and other media influences.  If I act like my parents raising me in Michigan’s thumb and being educated in a blue-collar community didn’t influence the trajectory of my life, I would be a fool.  In fact, try as I might to change it, I can’t seem to completely transition from a blue-collar mentality into a while-collar one; it’s jsut too deeply rooted into my blood.

But there was a time in my life when I was completely, and permanently, changed: the day when I met the Jesus.

When I met Jesus, I mean really met Him, I met the most kind and gentle person ever.  He is one of those people that you can’t help liking.  Just being with Him is comforting, sort of like how I felt safe knowing that nobody would get through my earthly father to cause me harm when I was a kid.  And He is gently-firm, sort of like how a dad demands a child’s best when they learn a new sport and a mother who comforts the child as they feel the pain of diligent practice.  He is also faithful, mainly faithful (possibly), sort of like how I used to come home long after a night of gluttonous intoxication and kick the dog before I passed out only to awake to find the dog snuggled close awaiting my return to sobriety.  His attributes are too many to list and will take more than the rest of life time to explore but when I met Him, really met Him, I was utterly and forever changed.

Colossians 2:9-10

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness.

The day I met Jesus I learned one very important lesson: He is not really like what I had always been told that He was like.  What I appreciated most was that He was not as petty as most of the Christian people in my life were.  I know this because I learned that He is not as petty as I often am.  And this makes me happy.

Want an exercise?  Write down on a piece of paper all the attributes of Jesus as you can think of in one column, then in the next, read the Book of Colossians (Only 4 Chapters) and write down all the attributes of Jesus that the Apostle Paul attributes to Him: then compare both lists.  Odds are you will kdiscover that you have never really met Jesus before.

And when you are finished, take the time to seek Him, the Jesus that Paul introduces to you.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Watchers – 9/10/2017


Suppose, heaven forbid, that your house caught fire during the night and your children or spouse knew about it and snuck out quietly without yelling to alert everyone else in the house? 

Or suppose that your neighbor’s house was on fire and your other neighbor had the ability, but didn’t, to yell and save them from the danger of the impending flames?

Would you agree that your loved one or neighbor deserved punishment for not sounding the alarm if you or your neighbor died but could have been saved?

These scenarios might seem a little ridiculous but they are valid questions I think.  They are ridiculous because I can’t imagine anyone getting out of, or seeing, a house fire without yelling for people to get clear.  However, there are arsonists who get some weird jollies when there is fire and people are in danger.

The prophet Ezekiel was charged by God to point out the sins of the people that would bring God’s wrath upon them.  If he didn’t speak up, their blood was on his hands; he was guilty of letting them die without sounding the alarm.

Ezekiel 33:7-9

Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved.

Today, we have preachers and prophets who sound the alarm among us, about our own sins and wrong doing which is bringing the wrath of God upon us.  We don’t like it much.  Some preachers are just over-zealous and not very nice, and sometimes we just don’t like being told that we are in the spiritual wrong. 

No matter though, if there is a Final Judgment and a Heaven and Hell to be concerned with, shouldn’t preacher and prophet alike sound the alarms so that we have a chance of being saved?

Sunday, September 3, 2017

But, But, But… – 9/3/2017


Most of us have heard the story of when God called Moses to go to Egypt to set the Israelites free from their slavery in Egypt.  If you’ll remember, the bush was on fire but did not burn up so Moses went to see the strange sight and that’s when God spoke to him.  What you may not know is that five times Moses tried to get out of it. (Read Exodus chapters 3 & 4)

In chapter 3 verse 11 Moses asked a question of God – “But who am I to go and speak?”  Fair enough, each of us understands this I think.  Because, I could be wrong, but everyone would wonder if they had the authority for such a task as to go to the Pharaoh and tell him that God said to free the Hebrew slaves.  But God assured Moses that He would be with Him all the way and enable him to do what he’s been charged to do.

Then a few verses later in verse 13 Moses questioned God again about telling the Hebrew leaders that he was going to be assuming the position of leader over the Children of Israel.  He asked God what would happen if they asked Moses what God’s name was.  And God told Moses to simply tell them that I AM who I AM has sent me.

In the first verse of chapter 4 Moses asks God a third question; “what if they don’t believe that you appeared to me?”  To this God gave Moses the signs of the staff turning into a snake, his hand becoming leprous, and his ability to turn the water from the Nile to blood.

Still not convinced God’s calling him is a good idea, Moses then tells God that he doesn’t speak well.  To this God asks Moses who was it that gave man his mouth and ability to speak in the first place.

Four times Moses questioned God about the wisdom of calling him and four times God assures him and provides him with miraculous answers so that He will be confident to move forward.  Then in chapter 4 verse 13 Moses once more tells God something.

Exodus 4:13

13 But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”

And there it was, Moses simply did not want to go so he asked to be passed over for this assignment and the response was that God’s anger burned against him.  It was as if God became frustrated with the never ending excuses…

Take a few minutes and consider if there is something that God has been calling to you about and you've been stumbling around making excuses of your own.  My guess is that there may be.

Matthew 16:24-26

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?