You know teaching is revolutionary when after 2000 years of it being read, it is still just as revolutionary as the day it was taught. This is the case with Jesus teaching out of Luke 6. Blessed are you who are poor . . . who hunger . . . who weep . . . when people hate you because of me, rejoice for great is your reward in heaven. Woe to you who are rich, who are well fed, for you have recieved your comfort . . . Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.
These are all things that go against our experience on earth, but mysteries that belong to the Kingdom of God. God desires to bring mercy, love, and justice to those who have none on earth.
I had a great experience this past Sunday. For those who may not know, part of my job at the church where I pastor is leading worship. This past Sunday I did a duet with a friend of mine, Don Bradely. Before I tell you about the song, I must first mention that singing with Don Bradely is like singing with an Angel. Not that I have heard angel's sing, but as I imagine, they are amazingly good. Anyway, singing with Don for me is truly a treat as his voice turns music into paintings . . . his voice is like reading a book by a fire, a cup of coffee in hand, with snow falling outside your window. Ok, you get the picture, and Don if you read this I am sorry for embaressing you.
Anyway, we sang the hymn, "For the Beauty of the Earth." And it brought back a flood of memories from my childhood. Before we ate each meal as a family (with my grandparent--which happend a couple times a week) not only would we pray before the meal, we would also sing a hymn. We had about 10 hymns that we would sing over and over and over again, year after year, meal after meal. This all came back to me recently, as I went back to my home town and we all ate together. For the Beauty of the Earth was one of those hymns. I charish those memories. Not only praying as a family before each meal but singing. I don't know if this is a lost part of culture, or possibly one that was never found. Maybe my family being musical, this was just their expression of love to Jesus. Who knows, but I am thankful for it, and for those memories. I am thankful for the beauty of the earth. I am thankful that I am so blessed to be able to sing with Don Bradely, and I am thankful to be surronded by family that loves me. First and foremost my wife Lynsey.
In watching Polar Express, reading Dallas Willard's Divine Conspiracy, and reading Luke 5, one theme stands out among them all BELIEVE. However, believe not in the way we usually use it as conservative evangelical. We usually mean, believe that God exists, and that he can save you from your sins.
What does belief look like in Luke 5? 1) The disciples casting out there nets because Jesus told them to, even though they hadn't caught anything all night. 2) A lepor saying, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." 3) Men carring a paralytic to Jesus so he could heal them, "Jesus saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgive."
Only one thing, none of these people were seeking forgiveness for sins, they were just seeking Jesus, and believing Jesus. Forgiveness of sins was just something Jesus gave to those with faith.
One more thing (this from Dallas Willard). Abraham, who is our model for faith "Abraham believed God and it was credited as righteousness," his faith was not that God could forgive His sins, but that he would have a son that was promised to him. He believed God would do what he said. Abraham's faith wasn't focused on sin, but on life.
Somewhere our current concept of faith shifted so that we only focus on our sins being forgiven so we can go to heaven. But all throughout the bible, belief is demonstrated in our everyday life, and relationship with God. Forgiveness comes to those with relationship with God.
What areas in my life do I need to believe in God for?
In Luke 4, at the beginning of Jesus ministry there are a couple different statements that are given in a way to define his ministry or lay out a purpose for Him.
Vs.18-19, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
Reread those verses slowly paying attention to every word. (OK, when did it shift that the gospel was for those in power, rather than those who were poor, prisoned, blind, oppressed?)
The second verse in that chapter that presents purpose, is vs. 43, "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent."
So were you right? Was your answer to why Jesus came to earth similar? It seems like 95% of my life I never heard or noticed this . . . why?
John's teaching prepared the way for Jesus. What was his message? "Poduce fruit in keeping with repentance" don't rest on Abraham as your father. They ask, "How are we to do this?" John says, the one with two tunics should give to the man with none. The one with food should give to the man with none. People in authority should not exploit those undersubmission.
As I was thinking about waiting for the second coming of Christ this seems like a message that should be preached to the church today. Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. Don't say to me I prayed the sinners prayer, God could make rocks pray the sinners prayer. Produce fruit that is keeping with repentance. Those in the top couple of percents of the world's wealth, share and help those who are not. Do not use your power to exploit other nations, other peoples. Give to the person with out food, or clothes.
Maybe in doing these things it will hasten the return of Christ.
I'm in Luke 2 . . . Jesus is born, God came to earth. Everything about how Jesus came not only astounds me, but also is consistent with his message. The angel's anounce Jesus birth, they could anounce it to any one, or every one in the world, yet the angels are summoned to anounce to shepherds that Jesus is born. Shepherds? Really?
Jesus came for the "least of these," it is fitting to announce to those people that he was here. Can you imagine being on of those shepherds, and a ton of angels appear telling you that the messiah is here. I wonder if anyone believed the shepherds?
It is the little things like these (how he was born, stables, sheperds) that just make me fall in love with Jesus and the story all over again. His life, coming, message, everything matches, there is no discrepency or hipocracy.
I began the Gospel of Luke today, and as I did, a couple of thoughts jumped out at me. In the first chapter Mary has a song of praise, and it amazes me that this teen aged girl has the wisdom she does. Even before Jesus was born she has the pulse of Jesus message. " . . . he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble."
This is Jesus message presented first by his mom . . . that the first will be last in the Kingdom and the last will be first. That God lifts up the humble.
If Jesus could be born by a virgin, he could be born any way he wanted to. And he choose a young humble woman to begin his life on earth. I love the way Jesus always values women, and lifts them up. In everything about how Jesus came to earth and lived on earth, it shows that women are not second class in God's kingdom. They should have the highest honor.
My friend Aj's most recent post inspired me, so I thought I would share my comment on his blog here as well.
"Honesty is one of the best reasons to be in the dog house. I have been in the dog house for a lot less valuable things (like just being dumb). =)
I think your thought is a good one. As much time as we try to understand the opposite sex, who we can see, hear, touch, smell, etc. How much more mysterious God is who we can't see, hear, touch, smell, etc.
What a beautiful thing it is to love (God or the opposite sex) with out understanding, or needing to define. But to trust, honor, and have relationship with. Let's let mysteries be mysterious, and celebrate the beauty of relationships, and a love that doesn't always need to understand."
I read about Jesus crucifiction this morning. Prior to it Jesus was praying if this cup he was about to bear could be removed. The answer was no. And Jesus suffered greatly.
On the cross Jesus said, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" There is debate about what this means. What he quoting psalm 22 to show that prophecy had been fulfilled, or did he feel that God had abandoned him, or had God really abandoned him.
Regardless when we suffer greatly it is easy to feel that God has abandoned us. But somehow we must keep reading, before we put the book of our lives down, or the gospel for that matter. Because God raised Jesus again. If we stop on the chapter of pain, and suffering, the story is aweful. But that is never the end for those who hope in Jesus. There will be a chapter of resurrection.
I came across a great post today called Blog Less, Live More, by Andrew Jones. If you are reading this blog, chances are you could be a blogoholic . . . If your name is Brian Eberly, you could be a blogoholic. Just kidding Brian.
Anyway, this post is worth the read, and a good encouragement to not form addictive behaviors around the computer/blogoshpere. Let's not trade to much life, blogging about life, rather than living it.
A couple days ago, I posted about prayer being a mystery to me. Well here I am today in Mark 14, and more questions of prayer arise.
First Jesus tells all the disciples they will fall away, and that Peter will disown Jesus 3 times, before the rooster crows. Then a couple verses later Jesus tells Peter, "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."
What would happen is Peter actually took Jesus advice, stayed up the rest of the night praying with Jesus, that he would not fall away. Would he have still fallen, and denied Jesus as prophecied, or would God have helped him to stay strong.
I guess the nature of prophecy is that God knows what is going to happen and it happens. But then why would Jesus tell Peter to pray? Patronizing him? I don't think that is the tone here. It seems like a plea from Jesus to his friend to stay up with him, and pray that they might remain strong.
I wonder how acts would read differently if Peter had made that one decision to pray. His falling away was a defining moment of his life. hmmmm.
I always wondered why Jesus talked about how His return could come at any time, and you get the feeling that it is coming really soon. In Mark 13 Jesus is prophecying about all the thing that are going to happen, and it sounds like it was about to happen. But then in verse 32 it says "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
I guess as Jesus did not even know when he would return at that point, I wonder if he thought it would be sooner (less than 2000 years), but at least he wanted to make sure they were ready.
The phrase that relates to the Gospel in this chapter is "The gospel must first be preached to all nations." The nature of the gospel is to go out into all the world, and reading this literally, until that happens the end will not come.
I have read the words out of Mark 11 multiple times . . . I have even taught those same words numberous times, but to be honest, I just don't understand them . . . I could use a little help.
"I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in paryer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."
I have prayed a long time for things, and had the purest faith that it would happen, and it didn't. Jesus words here confuse me, we can come up with lots of christian answers with time line, or God giving us the best for us. But who said it was best for the mountain to be in the sea? And how do you get around statements "Whatever . . . and it will be yours."
I want to believe . . . help my unbelief . . . I am confused.