RSS

Tag Archives: Jesus

Why You Exist

If you start reading the Bible from the top (Genesis), you don’t see Jesus, but He is there. John 1:3 tells us that Jesus is the Creator…

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. (ESV)

Hebrews tells us the same thing…

…in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. Hebrews 1:2 (ESV)

As does Colossians 1…

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things were created through him and for him. Colossians 1:15-16 (ESV)

It’s the last thought that leads me to ponder: “all things were created through him…and for him.” So here’s a thought to get your week off to a good start: You have been created for Jesus. He is why you exist, and He is why I exist. We were created for Him.

And it strikes me that if He has truly created us for Himself, we will be used for Him in one way or another. He will see to it. And therefore, happily, some of us will use our lives in the way He first intended, to bring glory and honor to Him, to praise His name.

And others? Well, others will be object lessons serving to remind us throughout eternity: here is what happens to someone who thumbs his nose at Jesus, the Creator of the Universe.

For tomorrow, Tuesday, October 6th: John 2

 

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 5, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , ,

I Will Make You Fishers of Men

“I will make you fishers of men, fishers of men, fishers of men. I will make you fishers of men…if you follow me.” Do you remember the song? For me, it dates back to sometime probably during the ’60’s, when I sang it at Briarwood United Methodist Church in Jackson, Mississippi. I doubt I knew what it meant back then, but I do now. Peter had been fishing all night to no avail, but then Jesus got into his boat, and Peter’s “luck” changed. It changed so much that Simon Peter knew it wasn’t luck, and he was suddenly and extraordinarily fearful of the Nazarene Carpenter. So Jesus said,

“Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” Luke 5:10 (ESV)

From fish…to men. This is what Jesus does when He comes into someone’s life – He changes the trajectory of a life.

  • Previously the college guy was chasing women; now he is pursuing the Lord.
  • Previously the starlet was focused on her own beauty; now she is focused on His beauty.
  • Previously the CEO was serving mammon; now He is serving God.
  • Previously Peter had been catching fish; now he would be catching men.

Jesus doesn’t get into a boat except that He redirects it. Fishermen don’t necessarily stop going out to sea, and accountants don’t immediately put away their debits and credits; but Jesus’ fishermen do make time to throw their nets into another kind of sea, and Christ’s accountants begin to tally up who is on the Lord’s side.

It’s who Jesus makes them to be…when they follow Him.

 

For tomorrow, July 8th: Luke 6

 
2 Comments

Posted by on July 7, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , ,

The Conversation That Never Happened

On resurrection morning, the three women who discovered an angel instead of Jesus’s body didn’t go away saying this…

“They will all think we’re weird you know, if we tell them that we saw an angel.” Walking away from the tomb, Mary Magdalene confessed her concerns to Salome and Mary the mother of James.

“Yeah, I’ve been thinking that too, but he told us to tell the disciples…and Peter.  It’s a matter of obedience now.” Salome said.

“I know, I know, we’re under an obligation…so who wants to be the first to say that Jesus is alive? Not me. Why don’t you tell them, Mary?” Mary Magdalene urged.

“Uh, uh, not me. I’ve got an idea. Let’s draw straws. Whoever gets the short one has to pass on the news about the resurrection.” James’ mother suggested.

“Well, okay.” said Mary Magdalene.

“Alright…I guess. I just hope I don’t have to be the weirdo.” said Salome.

Right…I don’t think so.  Of course the above conversation never happened…so what did happen? I’ll tell you what…the women found the disciples and couldn’t wait to get the news out. Of course, Mark tells us that they said nothing to anyone, but surely he means anyone other than the disciples. When they found the disciples, I’m guessing they were like three sisters in grade school who made some discovery in their backyard and couldn’t wait to tell their parents:

“I get to tell!”  “No, I get to tell!”  “No, me!”

You get the idea.

Yes, these women were astonished and trembling…and bursting with joy.

I imagined this conversation because of a quote I heard recently. And so I will close with the following insightful word from Lesslie Newbigin…

“There has been a long tradition which sees the mission of the Church primarily as obedience to a command.  It has been customary to speak of ‘the missionary mandate.’  This way of putting the matter is certainly not without justification, and yet it seems to me that it misses the point.  It tends to make mission a burden rather than a joy, to make it part of the law rather than part of the gospel.  If one looks at the New Testament evidence one gets another impression.  Mission begins with a kind of explosion of joy.  The news that the rejected and crucified Jesus is alive is something that cannot possibly be suppressed.  It must be told.  Who could be silent about such a fact?  The mission of the Church in the pages of the New Testament is more like the fallout from a vast explosion, a radioactive fallout which is not lethal but life-giving.”

Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society (Grand Rapids, 1989), page 116

 

Tuesday, May 5: 1 Corinthians 1

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

A Declaration of Dependence

Jesus not only loves the little children, He also demands that all of His followers be just like them…

And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. Mark 10:13 – 16 (ESV)

So if we must become like little children to enter the Kingdom, what does it mean to become like a little child?

Of course, little children will generally believe whatever you tell them, so many people think that to become like a little child is to simply trust. And I’m sure there is an element of that in Jesus’s word. After all, trusting is key to eternal life. But I think there is another trait of children which is even more in view.

It is the trait of dependence. Little children are nothing if not dependent.

They…need.

They need someone to feed them, and they need someone to clothe them. Someone else provides their shelter. They speak because someone teaches them to speak. They need someone to teach them right from wrong. They are desperately, totally, needy.

And so are we. We are all needy, but only some of us recognize it. And that’s what Jesus is looking for – followers who recognize their dependence on Him. In fact, I think we can say that recognizing our dependence is the great trait of godliness. Consider that dependence is not only the way to become a Christian, but also the way to live the Christian life.

You become a Christian by renouncing independence, that is, renouncing dependence on your own works, and declaring that you need Jesus’s works. And you continue in the Christian life by daily declaring in prayer that you need Him. In fact, prayer is the great act of dependence.  Therefore, the Christian who spends very little time in prayer is not being child-like.  And the Christian who spends much time in prayer is honoring God who loves to be depended on.

The facts are this – we are all like little children, that is dependent. But some people act like they’re all grown up. This is a foolish plan. So today…if you are under the impression that you are “good enough” to one day be granted access into heaven, recognize that your righteous deeds are like a filthy garment (Isaiah 64:6), and act like a little child by declaring your dependence on Christ’s work at the cross for your salvation. And if you have become a Christian, then today…and all days…crawl up on your Heavenly Daddy’s lap and show Him that you need Him…by setting aside time to seek Him in prayer.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on April 24, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , ,

The Promise

Statue to MacArthur on the grounds of West Point, NY

Statue to MacArthur on the grounds of West Point, NY

They warned me about Reorganization (Reorgy) week at West Point, but there was no way to have a real sense for what was coming.

The week before Reorgy was the last week of basic training or “Beast Barracks” at the Academy, and believe it or not, it was as close to any vacation as I had known thus far. It was hardly basic training, taking place about 10 miles from the West Point grounds at a camp on Lake Frederick. There were leadership exercises during the day, a little boating if I remember correctly, and evening rallies and movies and lots of time to write letters – overall, a general relaxed feeling. It was during this week that West Point Firstie Bob Maruna dropped by my tent and changed my forever.

But we were told what was coming – Reorgy – the week when ALL the sophomores (Yearlings), juniors (Cows), and seniors (Firsties) descended on the West Point campus  from their various summer assignments and made life for us Plebes a living hell. Previously, during the summer there were a few upperclassmen around who would haze us, mostly Firsties. The ratio was maybe 10 plebes to every 1 upperclassman. But now everything was about to change. The Yearlings, Cows and Firsties all had the right to haze Plebes, and most didn’t seem to hold back. That reversed the ratio: 1 Plebe to every 3 upperclassmen. Life was about to get tough.

We still had no idea.

I met my two new Plebe roommates at the start of the week: first, there was hapless Jamie, who had trouble labeling and putting his dirty clothes in the bag for the laundry service to clean (actually going to the cadet store to buy new underwear). The dear chap would flunk out at the end of first semester. But the other guy in our three bed room was at the opposite end of the spectrum – Rocky – who would go on to complete West Point and become an Army neurosurgeon. Thinking about it years later makes me laugh – the phrase oil and water comes to mind.

The three of us returned from our 10 mile forced march with dirty everything from bivouacking and set about to organize our room for the start of the academic year.

Before too long, our new assistant squad leader dropped by to introduce himself. He was a Yearling, a friendly sort, and I got the impression he was on our team. Before he left, he said nonchalantly, “You guys smell. You’d better keep the door open and air things out.”

And soon we had another visitor: A particularly nasty Cow, a member of our new company (and apparently our new neighbor down the hall), he had walked by our room with its open door and didn’t like the odor. “Hey, you plebes, you smell! Keep your door closed!”

Yes sir. We closed the door. (Maybe we weren’t too bright, but I can only say that speaking up to this guy didn’t seem to be the thing to do.)

And then there we two strong knocks at the door. “Enter sir!” one of us bellowed. It was Friendly Yearling, frustrated. “Hey you guys, I thought I made it clear that I wanted you to air things out. Keep this door open.”

Do you know where this is going?

The Nasty Cow came back, loudly and very unpleasantly from the hallway: “One of you Plebes, post out here pronto!” Of the three of us, I volunteered (never do that in the Army) and thus began a couple of weeks of required visits to the sadist’s room for an extra helping of hazing. It remains one of my worst memories of the Academy.

I share all this to give you a glimpse of a particularly terrible week in my life. And yet, God was at work in my life, moving and drawing me. I had just heard the gospel the week before, and had been invited to a retreat at the end of Reorgy for Cadet Chapel Sunday School teachers. And yet, as the end of Hell week approached, my attendance at said retreat was in serious question, at least according to another young man who was my new squad leader, again an unforgettable and seemingly unkind Firstie Cadet named Zunde.

To this day, I remember the three of us, Jamie, Rocky and me, standing at attention in Zunde’s room, waiting his word on the fate of our upcoming weekend. I so wanted to go on that retreat, but would Zunde give his okay?

And as we stood stiff in his room, waiting for his judgment, fearful of his final word, in one glorious moment, I sensed something wonderful. There were not just four of us in that room, the hazer and his three hazees. No…there was another.

Jesus was there. Really. He was. I could tell. I was not alone.

I was going on that retreat.

I’ve never had the same sense like I did that week some 32 years ago, but it doesn’t matter.  He has been with me ever since, just like He promised to be with all those who follow Him:

“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20  (ESV)

Inspired Readers: Tomorrow, Tuesday, February 10  – we begin the book of Acts, chapter 1.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on February 9, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

A Day to Remember

We’ve all thought how glorious it would have been to be a disciple, walking and talking with Jesus of Nazareth; but you’ve got to think, how confusing also. After all…Who is this man? (A question they undoubtedly asked more than once). Put yourself in their shoes: Jesus is being revealed as someone incredibly special over the three years that you walk with him, forgiving sins, calming storms, healing lepers, calling Himself the Great I AM, but still there is…well, lack of clarity. After all, you would think, “He looks like us. He talks like us. He laughs like us and sweats and gets tired and hungry like us,” which of course he would because He was fully man. And surely along the way you would be scratching your head with questions.

But then one day Jesus leads the lucky ducks Peter, James and John up a mountain, and it all becomes so very clear. In a flash, before their very eyes, Jesus the one-time carpenter is transforming…changing…transfiguring. His face begins to shine like a spotlight, in fact like the sun, and you can’t even look Him in the eyes anymore. And then his clothes start to change too, from dust-covered brown…to dazzling white, or like Mark joyfully describes, “whiter than any launderer on earth could whiten them.”

Something incredible is happening here: Peter, James and John are seeing Jesus…as God.

And then suddenly two other men show up out of the blue, Moses, representing the Law, and Elijah, representing the Prophets. Now, they weren’t wearing nametags, and somehow I doubt that Jesus offered introductions, but who can say? For my part, I think somehow they all just knew. And this was the craziest thing – their leader Jesus was talking to these two guys – as if they were old friends, and I mean old. Did they hug because they hadn’t seen each other for a while? I wouldn’t be surprised. And so the disciples would be thinking, “Wait a second…how is this all possible?” But wait, that’s not all, for to boot, there can be no doubt who the leader was amongst this august group of three old friends. You see, if Moses and Elijah showed up at my house, I would just humble myself like a Hobbit and say, “Roger at your service, sirs.” But it’s the opposite here – Moses and Elijah are there to serve Jesus. He is absolutely calling the shots, as the Heavenly Father makes clear who the One is with ultimate authority: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him!”

And when that voice came from that bright cloud, the clarity of it all was just too clear, and they cowered in terror. But the simultaneously dazzling and caring Jesus laid his hand on the three frightened men, telling them to “Rise, and have no fear.”

And looking up, the men saw that all was restored as if it they had awakened from a magnificent dream. But it was no dream at all. It was reality. In fact, it is the reality we will know one day also, when we see those dazzling white robes and look into the face like the sun, and when, as that transfiguration witness John once said, “…we shall see Him as He is.” (1 John 3:2 ESV)

 

Monday, January 26th: Matthew 18

 
2 Comments

Posted by on January 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , ,

The Popular Jesus

Everybody loves Jesus nowadays.  Have you noticed?  Christians aren’t too well liked in many quarters, but Jesus retains His popularity.  And in light of that, everyone wants Him on their side.

The debate about marriage is a modern day example of this: Much is made about the fact that the Lord never said anything overtly about homosexuality, so LGBT folks and their supporters are proud to call Him one of theirs.  (Though of course He did assume marriage was between one man and one woman. [Matthew 19:4 – 6])

But, leaving that topic behind, my point was that everyone likes Jesus.

Muslims like Jesus…Hindus like Jesus…Buddhists like Jesus.

I suppose that most everyone in most every religion feels warmly about Jesus of Nazareth.  Liberals have left behind almost everything He said of any consequence, so that what they believe is mostly unrecognizable from the Bible, and yet…they still like to sprinkle their Jesus dust around.

Everyone loves Jesus.

And then we read the story of what happened one day in the country of the Gadarenes, and it makes me wonder if the world would love Jesus so much if they knew Him the way the people of that region knew Him.  Matthew tells the story of the demon-possessed men from that area who met the Lord coming out of the tombs.  And the demons who possessed them begged to be set free to…go into the pigs. And after He grants this wish, they rush down and the pigs drown in the sea.  The herdsmen take off and tell everyone.  And then there’s this…

And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region.

Matthew 8:34

The Gadarenes begged Him to leave, yet everyone today is…begging Him to stay.  You see, I think this strange story of demons and drowning pigs illustrates a significant truth: in general, people today have absolutely no clue who the Lord Jesus Christ is.

Mr. Beaver, though, of C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe…he knew, and he related to Lucy about the Christ-figure Aslan. Do you remember the story?

“Is – is he a man?” asked Lucy.

“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion, the Lion, the great Lion.”

“Ooh,” said Susan, “I thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”

“That you will, dearie, and make no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”

“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king I tell you.”

If most people of the world truly knew Jesus, I think they might not be so excited about having Him around. I think they might join the folks of Gadarene.  They would beg Him to leave their region.

After all, He is not a tame lion.

 

Tuesday, January 13: Matthew 9

 

 
3 Comments

Posted by on January 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

 
<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: