Thursday, May 27, 2010

Truth & Love: a beautiful balance

And now I ask you, dear lady - not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning - that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.
2 John 5-6

Love is a dominant theme in all of the apostle John's writings. And this little postcard is no exception. But it isn't about gushy emotions. There is a necessary relationship between love for fellow believers and love for the Lord shown by obedience to the truth of His commands. John says that walking in obedience to the Lord is the first step in real love among Christians.

This is important because the very next section (2 John 7-11) - what is really the heart of the epistle - warns against associating with false teachers. False doctrine is wrong because it does not walk in Christ's commands. It cannot be love. It must be avoided and confronted.

The necessary relationship between truth and love is vital to the church. It makes us unique. Truth cannot exist without love or it is just stale fact that is void of life. Love cannot exist without truth or it is just sappy emotionalism. Both must exist in commitment to each other as evidenced in the lives of Christians who together walk in love according to Christ's commands.

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Truth Lives Among Us

The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth, because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever:
2 John 1-2

This short little scrap of a note of a letter was meant to encourage Christians in their commitment to the truth. Truth is certainly doctrinal, but it is not JUST that alone. Truth lives in God's people. I love the way that John puts it here. The Greek that the ESV translates as "abides in us" can be translated as "lives among us." This is a community effort. Yes, individual believers must know and obey the truth of the gospel. But it lives, it remains, it is seen in us as a group. This is about the primacy of the local church.

Christians are to thrive in a church, a community of fellow believers, because that is how the truth remains. Lone wolf Christians will be more likely to have shortcomings in truth and obedience. God designed Christians to need one another. It is maturity in community that is the bond of disciples to one another.

The problem is that we focus in on the areas where my brother or sister still needs maturity. And it is easy to pridefully pick on the collective church as a group of hypocrites and liars. But that is taking our eyes of the truth and our own need to grow in it. The truth challenges us individually to change and to grow. And it challenges us to lovingly challenge one another. That is how the truth of the gospel lives among us.

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Last Word on Jesus from the Gospels

Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
John 21:25

John's final commentary on the life of Christ is poetic and personal. He lets himself say something in the first person, a comment unique in all four gospels and he saves it for the last of the book. It is a fitting epilogue.

He clues us in on how the gospel writers composed their works. They needed to be selective. They had to define the life of Christ and even in his three years of earthly ministry their was an intensity and breadth that not every word and deed could be recorded. They were men who had a message in their written accounts. Some brevity was necessary to relate that message pointedly. But nothing was lost. We know everything we need to know about Jesus. What emerges from each of the brief four gospel accounts is a full picture of Jesus, not just a rudimentary sketch.

They also had a daunting task. John is the most personal and the most doctrinal of the four gospels. It shows the deity of Christ most dramatically. It paints the conflicts Jesus had with official religion in the boldest strokes. John gives us the strongest personal reactions to Jesus by those who accepted Him AND those who rejected Him. And John says there was more he could have written. There is an old story tellers adage that applies: "Always leave them wanting more". The gospels do just that.

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Gospel of Peace May Be Uncomfortable

Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you."
John 20:21

The disciples were huddled behind closed doors for fear of the Jews. They knew there had been a resurrection. They had not yet seen Jesus, and were not going to go around talking about this. Until now. And Jesus came challenging their fear by giving them words of peace and of command.

When I think about how they must have been feeling, I see that Jesus was working them over. He was giving them a convicting message. They were hiding from the world. He was sending them into the world. They were huddled together in fear for comfort. He was breaking them up and sending them out into ministry. And the world had not changed its opinion of Him. The authorities would still be opposed to the saving message of the gospel. But these men were nevertheless challenged to get at the call Christ was giving to them.

How many times have I preferred the comfort of the church crowd to the challenge of the Great Commission? If I am not careful, I will stay huddled in the church. But the odd thing is that obeying Jesus in going into the world brings peace, nor from the world, but from Him. And the peace goes into the world one redeemed sinner at a time. It is a gospel of peace. I need to remember that.

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

"It is finished!" - triumph in the tragedy.

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, "It is finished," and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
John 19:30

For the disciples this seemed like an ending, but for all of us, this was the beginning. The crucifixion was not just some horrifying injustice. It was not about man's cruelty to man. It was about God's love for mankind despite their cruel sin. And the world of humanity, represented by Roman authority and Jewish religiosity turned against God in a momentous sin. They crucified the Son of God. Yet, He gave up His spirit on His own. He would lay down His life of His own accord... freely.

It took these events to bring salvation. And the sins of the whole world, my own sins, were carried by Him to that cross and in His death I died. In the hours that followed, Jesus' body was lowered from that pain-filled cross and buried in a rich man's borrowed rock tomb. But on the third day... all the trauma turned to triumph.

His last cry from vinegar soaked lips was "It is finished!" And that is the first shout of victory that echoed three days later when His followers murmured unbelievably, "He is risen!" Christ's victory over sin and death came at a high price. And by faith I accept, living it at a high cost... offering my life in obedience to my Lord.

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Not of This World

Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world."
John 18:36

Jesus is different. We cannot treat Him like any other historical figure and think we got Him right. He was bringing something to humanity from another realm. His kingdom was unlike anything this world had ever seen. And it is ironic that Jesus says this in the situation that He does.

He is on trial for His life and is standing before Pilate, the Roman governor who has the authority to pronounce sentence on Him. He has been brought to Pilate by the Jewish religious authorities who arrested Him, but who had no final say so on His fate. A "system" is being worked, twisted to kill Him... it was politically complicated. But not for Jesus... His kingdom is not of this world.

He made it clear that the "might makes right" thinking of Rome was not how His kingdom worked. And He made it clear that His kingdom has the highest authority. His calm answer before the judge was evidence of His innocence of the seditious charges the Jews made of Him before Rome. Pilate saw this for what it was. He literally washed his hands of an innocent man's blood when he handed Jesus back over to the Jews, accompanied by a Roman crucifixion death squad. But Jesus and a kingdom were still in charge. This was God's plan to bring salvation to all who would believe and usher in a King and a kingdom that are not of this world.

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Scriptures as agent of change

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
John 17:17

Jesus prayed that God would use His Word as the means to holiness for His disciples. We are changed through the process of sanctification. And we become more like Christ by knowing, believing, following, and obeying the truth. We know the truth in the Holy Scriptures. There is no other way. Jesus Himself asked for God the Father to do this in us.

So it is absolutely imperative for me to be changed by the truth of the Word of God. Only by exposure to the Word, acceptance of its truth as I come to understand it, and applying the principles to my daily experience can I truly mature in my faith and become more like my Master. So getting into the Word is a mandate of discipleship. It is my work for true life. And it is a life's work.

I thank You for the accessibility to Your Word that I enjoy. It is an abundance of riches. And it is also a serious demand. You want me made holy, changed, and charged for Your service by my intake of Your truth. Do so in me, even today!

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Peace & Pain

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. ”
John 16:33

There is a two-fold contrast of promises that Jesus makes to His disciples here. It is not particularly enjoyable to contemplate, but it is ultimately comforting. Jesus announces that He came into the world to bring peace to them through relationship with Him. That is well and good, but there is more to it. He could not guarantee that peace meant a conflict life in this world. It meant that pain would come from the world even while they were receiving peace in Jesus.

Christianity runs counterculture to the way things generally are in the world. We hold to absolute truth; the world runs from truth. We say sin brings judgment; the system says being bade is fun and a personal pleasure, even a right in some instances. We decry injustice and evil for what they are; the system perpetuates personal wealth and pleasure at expense of other people. All of that brings "tribulation" to those who swim against these currents.

Jesus' final words provide the perspective and encouragement we need: "...take heart; I have overcome the world." He would do so by dying on a cross at the hands of the powers of this world. He would then carry the sin of that world and later rise from the dead to offer victory over sin and death in this world to all who would change and be changed by trusting in Him.

- Posted with my iPad. The Apple Kool-Aide tastes fine.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Infinite Intimacy

No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
John 15:15

This is the kind of close relationship that Jesus was preparing to secure on the cross. By making peace with God through the atonement, He was creating the new terms of intimate friendship between God and man that had not been present since the Garden of Eden. The disciples were the first people to get a taste of this experience in their relationship with Jesus.

And Jesus correctly defines what makes friendship different. He saw it as a matter of intimate knowledge. He held nothing back with His disciples. All that He had heard from His Father was made known to them. Friends share that kind of knowledge and life together.

God is hiding nothing from me in His Son. God is clear and straightforward and knowable in the Incarnation. That is why Jesus came. That is the power of the work of Jesus. It is the witness of the life of Jesus. God's will is observable in a life... one that I can delve into deeply through reading the New Testament, paying particular attention to all that is shown in the gospels.

And the knowledge is mine to share in Christ today. I believe this infinite intimacy is still the heart of my Lord for me, His follower. All disciples of Jesus will KNOW Him as their life's pursuit (Philippians 3:10). And it is the direction of mine. Thank You, Jesus, for coming to make Yourself known and to call me a friend!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Peace, man!

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
John 14:27

Peace is the gift of Jesus, and it comes specifically through the ministering work of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). The promise to the disciples was that the Holy Spirit would guide them in all truth and bring to mind the things that Jesus had taught them. Peace would follow in the work of the Spirit of God in their lives.

I live in a world that has always desperately wanted peace, but defies true peace at every turn because it sinfully resists the Spirit of God and the Savior Who would bring it peace. Hippie idealism has defined peace for many in our culture. But peace is not about a selfish "mellow life", or the absence of any military conflict. Peace is found only one way: through the One Who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6) and can redeem broken, restless souls one at a time when they come to Him.

My busy life can scream for peace without obedience to the Holy Spirit keeping me centered on Jesus. I must make my day focused on the Word of God that shows me the Son of God so that I can obey the will of God so that the Spirit of God may do His work in and through me. The result of that commitment and obedience is peace... real and God-given peace.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A bowl... a towel

If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.
John 13:14-15

Jesus came with a bowl of water
kneeling down, setting the example,
He served and washed calloused feet, calloused hearts
and in so doing set humility apart
as the service example
for all His disciples.

He wiped the wet feet with a towel
leaving with His men the teaching
that servanthood is the principle
creating ministry hearts, a service example
truly caring and always reaching
to the needs of all the world.

After the advance of two millennia
I need these words with challenge
knowing I live a self-driven lifestyle...
it crashes down with a bowl and a towel
in this call to action, simple service message
is for me, the disciple.

A bowl and a towel equip me
going into all I do in a life of ministry
Feet may not be my first call exactly
but humble service is always before me
Taking no credit, but kneeling humbly
all things to all men that some may be saved.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Crying out the claim

And Jesus cried out and said, "Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me."
John 12:44-45

Jesus made it clear that He had a unique relationship with the Father. He said that seeing Him was the same thing as seeing the Father. This was certainly a claim to deity that Jesus did not make in secret. The text says that He cried it out. This claim was public knowledge and became more and more an issue during the Passion Week leading to His crucifixion.

John 12 makes it clear that the religious authorities recognized what Jesus was claiming. They were losing coverts to His teaching. They were moving to deal with these claims and silence Him. If He were just another rabbi, there would have been room for Him in the system. There was no room for Him to claim to be God.

And I can see Jesus as nothing less than God, even as He is fully human. That is why as I read the gospels, I must be very attentive. I am looking at the life of my God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He claimed it and proved it in all that He did. I believe it. That is the best fact of my life.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Two reasons why death & resurrection are a big deal

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?"
John 11:25-26

Every time that I read this account and get to these words of Jesus to Martha I get a chill of compelling excitement that runs up and down my spine. I can't help it. This is Jesus Himself dealing without he most personal and devastating of human tragedies. This is what He came to do about death. And it is moving beyond my ability to describe.

I feel strong emotion here because everybody has been a Martha, and everybody will be a Lazarus. The tears come because I have stood in Martha's place before Jesus myself. I have lost someone (actually several someones) that I love and have felt helpless as I have seen death claim a family member. And everything that Jesus did set up this conversation. He knew Lazarus was sick, yet tarried in coming to visit His friend. He did not even make the burial. But here Jesus is compelling the family that He is "the resurrection and the life", asking them to believe in the hardest of moments.

I am also moved because I stand in Lazarus' position (at least partially). I will die one day. The older I get, the closer that day comes. We all will die some day. And what I do with this question Jesus posed to Martha is key. Do I really believe that my faith in Jesus as the resurrection and the life will give me eternal life? Absolutely! It is what all my life and what all my life rests on more and more every day. It is really hope based on a knowledge of my Savior and His great love.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Testing out blogging mobility from an iPad

Call me whatever you want, but I just ditched my laptop for this with a keyboard dock. For the kind of computing I now do, it makes sense. SO anyway, anybody want to buy a used Toshiba P100 17 inch HD screen laptop? I custom built it back in the day. I will sell it, a nice backpack, Windows 7 ultimate and Office 2007 for a grand total of $400.00.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Shawnee, KS

Jesus… on following Jesus

shepherd boy My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.

John 10:27-29


These are comforting and encouraging words for one who has chosen to follow Jesus. But what is remarkable is the context and the audience to which Jesus spoke them. The context was one of confrontation by the enemies of the Lord. And Jesus spoke these words, not to His disciples, but rather to His distracters. These people were actively opposing Him… the text says they did not believe (John 1:25-26). So I gather that these comforting words were actually meant to convict and discomfort those who do not believe in Jesus.


Why do I want to invest the earliest moments of my day in hearing from Jesus? It is because of the promises of these words in John 10. I want to hear His voice… and I do when I read His Word. I have never had the mystical need for anything else because I have found so much “mystery” and “clarity” in the pages of scripture, particularly in passages like this one where Jesus says stuff like this!


And the security of being one of HIS sheep is superb. Nothing can take me from Him. Nothing can steal me away from the grasp of my God and Savior! I listen to God, I know Him and I follow Him. He gives me eternal life and nothing can separate me from that, or from Him!


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Salvation & Judgment

3D Audience Jesus said, "For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind."

John 9:39


I am trying to understand this statement in the light of an earlier statement that Jesus made to Nicodemus. He has said that the Son came into the world NOT to condemn it, but to save it (John 3:17). How does that square with this statement? I believe the answer is found in the audience of each statement.


In John 3, Jesus is dealing with an inquisitive seeker who has come to Him to find questions answered about eternal life. And the salvific purposes of God for the world flow from that conversation. The world has the potential for salvation by Jesus. Generally, God’s grace is offered freely to the entire world. But some will receive it while many will reject Jesus.


The John 9 conversation (at least at the end of the chapter) is directed to those who have see Jesus testify to His deity. They have seen a man born blind testify to His deity. They have seen a man born blind testify to Jesus’ work and power. And they continued in blind unbelief because to change would destroy their incorrect theology. That is why judgment would come. They refused to accept their sinful beliefs. Even in this statement, Jesus makes it clear that blind people (those lost and spiritually dead who believed Him) would see, and those who thought they saw (spiritually self-righteous who refuse to repent) would be blinded by Him. That is the difference between John 3 and John 9.


Monday, May 3, 2010

The Deity of Christ is essential to Christianity.

Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am."

John 8:58


trinity diagram This is an undiminished claim by Jesus to be God. He was appealing to the oldest roots of Judaism in this claim. He used the covenant name of God as revealed to Moses (“I am”) and He claimed to exist before Abraham, the father of the nation of Israel. It is very clear that the authorities understood what Jesus was claiming because they take immediate steps to stone Him for His blasphemy (John 8:59).


This is the part of Jesus that people still want to resist. It is OK to keep Him as a moral leader, as a great human or an enlightened teacher. But to ascribe to Him the authority and reality of God (which He claimed and demonstrated) is not what post-modern inclusivism wants to do. Instead, the system attacks the gospels as a trustworthy account of His life and teaching (leaving us with nothing by which to know Jesus) and blames His followers for deifying Him.


But Jesus clearly changed lives, backing up this claim. And those who saw Him and say and do what only God can do chose instead to hate Him. Why should it be different today? Accepting Christ as God and Savior has always been a personal commitment that is ridiculed by the world. But His is my salvation and life, and I know this!