Archive for the ‘ Jesus ’ Category

Ray of Darkness

I first offer you some sagely advice: go to Proverbial Thought and get some godly wisdom!

What Lights?

Have you ever been walking or driving down a road at night when it is really dark? Have you ever been there and had a car come around a corner with its high beams on?

If you read this blog on a regular basis, you have probably read and/or heard this passage read:

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16, ESV

As a believer in Jesus Christ, we should desire to be the light of the world to a lost and broken world drowned in darkness. It is good to be the light and want to help people.

What if our desire to help gets in the way of helping?

“No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”
Luke 11:33-36, ESV

Spreading Darkness

Is it possible that the light coming out of our eyes is dark?

If we are calling out and shining light on the sins of the world, yet we are just as guilty of those sins as believers, we share an hypocritical message that no one would want to believe. Why should they? We say one thing and do another.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
Philippians 2:14-16, ESV

I am not saying most Christians do this. I do not know most Christians nor their hearts.

What if there is another possibility?

What if, in our desire to be compassionate and loving, we forget our compassion and love?

The longer we walk in darkness the easier it gets to see, though we can not see with the same detail as in the light.

Obviously, those who walk in the light know this, and we simply wish to share the light with others.

Going back to my initial question, what happens when you are on a dark road and someone comes around the corner with their headlights on high beam?

Night blindness.

It is almost as though you are completely blind, or at least considered legally blind being able to see only the biggest and brightest things. Usually those sights tell us either to draw near for safety or flee from danger, such as in case there is another car speeding toward us!

This is what it can be like with a Christian approaching one who still walks in darkness.

In our zeal to reveal the sin of the world, we may come out of nowhere with our high beams right in their eyes!

We worsen their lives with our attacks on their sin!

Do not get me wrong: we should most certainly wish to help lead the world to the Savior who forgives and cleanses away their sins.

Some indeed may turn, in the induced blindness from our light, toward our light in hopes that we are someone who can help.

In a world that lives in fear, however, the most natural response is to react out of … FEAR!

Remembering the Way

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. . . .Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Ephesians 5:1-2, 15-21

In our desire to share God’s love, we must remember to be careful in our approach. There will be times we must speed in, but most of the time we must tread carefully with love, compassion, and wisdom.

The wise will share the love of Christ by trusting the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Update: Prodigal Magazine had a very good article yesterday about this very thing! They have good writers! God is amazing!

Seeing Salvation

I consider this work a work in progress.

It can be considered a Christmas poem. It can be considered a piece on the Gospel. It can be considered a prophetic word.

In any event, it fits this week leading into Christmas, and it is a good reminder after the events in Connecticut and around the world this past week.

A couple of weeks ago, I shared some thoughts on the two people, Simeon and Anna the Prophetess, who were waiting for the Messiah and saw Him in their old age. My thoughts concluded (indeed, centered around) expecting the soon return of the Messiah Jesus.

The entire reason for Jesus Coming to Earth was to save us from our sins and bring us into a right relationship with God. His return will be to finish the entire process, by bringing the physical up to speed with the spiritual, and bringing about ultimate peace on Earth for ever and ever.

It was easy for Jesus’ followers to forget His promise of coming back to life, and their new-found hope was a very pleasant surprise later at the resurrection of Jesus.

Because of His resurrection, we are able to give all of our troubles to Him, and we must remind ourselves of His soon return.

Now, see if you can find where I share each of these in this poem:

Seeing Salvation

They waited for years,
worshiping God daily in prayer.
God ever feeling more near,
as they awaited His Answer.

As their twilight years waned,
dutifully keeping their stations,
in came a couple with a babe.
They knew they were seeing Salvation. (Luke 2:21-38)

They walked with Him for years,
gladly hearing what He taught.
Now they only had tears,
with their Lord dying on a cross.

As their hope began to wane,
the women came with a proclamation.
The Lord was alive again!
Their faith was restored at seeing Salvation. (Matthew 28:1-10, Luke 24:1-12)

We live for many years,
wandering all over this earth.
We have troubles and fears,
wondering if we have any worth.

As our strength begins to wane,
there is hope in each situation.
We must turn to the Lamb who was slain.
Our souls are renewed in seeing Salvation.

There are not too many years,
this world will soon be decimated.
For God-lovers are jeered,
while sin and pride are celebrated.

After His long-suffering has waned,
His wrath will pour out on the nations.
Yet we will be reborn in His Name,
when we finally are seeing Salvation. (Revelation)

We must remember that all people are seeking redemption.

Some seek it and must wait.

Some are swept up and almost miss it.

Some find it out of their pain.

All people one day will see the Redeemer bringing redemption to all of Creation.

At Christmas, we must remember that God loved us enough to save. He came to us, born as a baby. He lived a perfect life, and died as the only acceptable sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. He seeks us out, and will one glorious day return to claim His redeemed and redeem all of Creation.

That is the true promise of Christmas. Peace on Earth will only come at the final consummation. When we pray for peace on Earth, we are asking for Jesus to come and save us all, people and Creation!

Seeing Stars

As usual, here is your friendly reminder to head over to Proverbial Thought for your daily dose of wisdom.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”
Matthew 2:1-2

Last week I discussed expecting the coming Messiah. I am continuing this little series, not from the standpoint of believers, but from the perspective of “outsiders” to the faith.

Star-struck

Nobody is completely sure who they were, but the Magi were definitely by our modern definition astrologers (study the stars, planets, and other such heavenly bodies to better understand the present and future) and possibly Zoroastrians. This could make sense, as Zoroastrians, like the Jews, are monotheists (yes, they still exist), worshiping only one god. In fact, they may be willing to accept that the Jews worship this god in their own fashion.

Regardless, they would have had reason to believe that this “king of the Jews” could indeed be Savior of the world, for Zoroastrians also believe one is coming.

While they were watching the stars, they saw this one star that, according to all of the various alignments and timing, meant someone in the area of Palestine of the Jewish people was being born as a king. This king was worthy of their worship.

Misguided

What is amazing is that foreigners knew the Jewish Messiah was coming.

How many in Israel knew?

Some were expecting, as discussed last week, but none knew until He was right in front of them or someone (such as angels?) told them.

How is it that the very people who should have seen the Savior of the world coming missed it, but outsiders recognized the times for what they were?

Part of it is that most of the Jews had an idea of what the Messiah should look like, and he was not exactly what they envisioned.

These Magi, however, were open to the fact that the Creator of everything could work however He wanted. They could see what most others could not, because they expected God to move in unusual ways.

Many Jewish leaders ended up getting hit over the head with their own sins and obtuseness. They had all the answers, but could not see the Rock of Truth flying straight at them.

Us

Would we have known Jesus was coming?

Are we paying attention to our times? Can we judge (with the help of the Holy Spirit, especially) whether Jesus may be coming soon?

Think on this (keeping in mind this is simply food for thought): If many religions and even atheists are expecting a highly probable (some would say definite) end to life as we know it, perhaps even to our planet, why is it so weird that some Christians expect the soon return of Christ to this world?

What are you looking at? What are you watching?

Or are you going to be surprised by God coming and ruining your plans?

Expecting the Messiah

I would like, firstly, to offer a reminder to check out Proverbial Thought. Wisdom is always helpful, and especially so during a busy holiday season!

Secondly, happy first week of Advent! Regardless of whether you practice celebrating Advent, we must always remember the importance of the coming of our Lord, which leads to the post:

On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.

When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
Luke 2:21-38

I have fallen in with several different crowds in my life. Before this gets out of hand, I mean within Christianity. One of those crowds with which my history is long and varied is those expecting the soon return of Jesus Christ. I recently have been hearing people, due largely to last year’s predictions of the rapture and the coming of the “Mayan prediction” of December 21, 2012, being the end of the world (bunk), mocking people who expect His soon coming.

These people doing the mocking are mostly Christian.

Here is some food for thought about expecting Jesus:

Is it really so silly?

There was another time when many people were calling for the coming of the Savior, and many others mocked them. It was easy with so many other religions and pseudo-Saviors popping up to save the day … and failing. Some expecting the Messiah claimed God had revealed to them that His Messiah was coming soon. Others were astute enough from years of dedicated prayer and fasting to recognize what was going on around them.

And those few were right.

The story above relates how to elderly people were eagerly waiting for the coming Messiah. When others may have laughed, they knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that He was coming.

I am pretty sure, however, that few laughed. In fact, when we consider the thousands that later followed Jesus, there were many people who expected a Messiah. In this story, it says Anna “spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” Do you realize that many of those who heard this may not have even been alive, let alone remembered this, by the time Jesus began His ministry 30 years later?!

Sometimes, God speaks through the craziest things

Many people today eagerly await the returning King of kings. This is good!

Sure, there are problems with some people claiming to know the date. Some people flat-out deny Christ’s return. Some people say it is not really that important.

Sometimes, we disregard a truth because of where it comes from.

Joseph and Mary easily could have disregarded what was being said about their infant son, but I am pretty sure their dreams and visions from only the previous six to nine months were vividly fresh in their minds. They were seeing an impossible baby being born to verify the visions and dreams! These prophecies were becoming run of the mill for them, by now!

Perhaps that is our problem.

How many Christians today regularly fast and pray? How often do you set aside time for seeking God through prayer and listening for Him?

Jesus could be coming this month (even as you read this). How could we know if we are not daily seeking time to talk with God. We do not believe in miracles or spiritual gifts, so why should we expect His return to be soon.

Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!
Philippians 3:17-4:1

This Christmas, and always, expect the Messiah to return soon. He may not, but we should live as though He is coming tonight but may wait another thousand years. Of course, we must praise Him always!

Reblog: Christian, Is Your HOPE in Political CHANGE?

I think Jason hit the nail on the head with this one. I know I for one have been frustrated with many brothers and sisters in Christ, so it helps knowing I am not alone!

Perhaps you feel the same. Perhaps you will feel convicted by this. In any event, this is a word of wisdom through Jason.

Christian, Is Your HOPE In Political CHANGE?

Last night I thought Twitter and Facebook were going to literally explode. I watched the election results like many Americans.  Personally, I voted differently than the results played out last night.  I was disappointed.

I was also disheartened.  I wasn’t disheartened by Barack Obama winning (I voted for Romney).  I wasn’t disheartened by the legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado (I think this is a big mistake for those states).  I wasn’t disheartened that Maine and Maryland voted to approve gay marriage (Although, I was deeply grieved that traditional marriage was dealt such a big blow).

Can I tell you why I was disheartened?  Believers in Jesus were despairing.

Continue reading here.

Back from the Dead: Back from the Dead – A Repost

As I said last week, I am taking a break from the blog to recuperate from much school, work (at a school!), and ministry. Here is a reminder that there is great wisdom to be found at Proverbial Thought. The post for today comes from November 1, 2011. It seemed a good idea for the holidays celebrated this week!

Back from the Dead

Today is All Saints Day, Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos, All Hallows, or Hallowmas. No matter what it is called, today is a day that celebrates those who have come before and moved on to the next life. No matter the history of today and Halloween (All Hallows Eve, the day before All Hallows/Hallowmas … think what Christmas Eve is to Christmas), there is a rich history all over the world of honoring or venerating the dead.

I will not get into whether or not it is okay or even good to do such things or celebrate holidays here. That is for later.

I want to discuss death.

The picture I have above is from the website zombiejesus.com, and it is definitely satirical but not theologically sound. They quote two verses from the Bible:

1) He came back from the dead Acts 2:24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him

2) He encourages zombie like behavior John 6:53 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have  no life in you”

As someone said elsewhere, “While precocious PKs (Pastor’s Kids) may try to pull off the Zombie Jesus costume, passionately asserting that Jesus did rise from the dead, a quick-witted parent will counter that He did NOT, however, rise from the UNdead.” The point: A zombie is the walking dead; Jesus defeated death. Zombies are in a state of perpetual death, never satisfied and never resting; Jesus was freed “from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him” and satisfies all our needs and gives us rest.

I have to point out that it should be “zombie-like,” with a hyphen. Other than nitpicking grammar, zombies do not drink blood. That is vampires. Therefore, they would have to include that Jesus is a Vampire. However, they are both undead creatures.

Ooh! There is a good point. These things are still creatures – CREATED THINGS! Jesus is not created, He is “begotten” or comes directly from God and IS GOD!

Moving on, I actually agree with this point for the humor-value (after fixing the small grammar issue), especially seeing as this very point is what kept many from becoming Christians in the first few centuries of the Church’s temporal existence. Though it is misguided, since we eat bread as Christ’s body and drink wine/juice/water as Christ’s blood.

Jesus is not a Zombie.

You might still here me (if you know me personally) occasionally refer to Christian Zombies, but it is slightly different (but only slightly).

Also, do not worship the dead or pray to them in the sense that you expect them to actually help you. They might hear you ask them to speak to God on your behalf, but if they do hear prayers (pray essentially means “ask”) I must confess to not thinking it matters much (sorry Catholic friends and family, but I have a point). We have a mediator: Jesus Christ. As I said above, He is God and is our connection to God through the Holy Spirit.

Back from the Dead: Merciful Death – A Repost

As I work on finishing up my degree (especially Calculus, at the moment!), I need a break from some things. As you saw last week, I had a guest blogger, and there will be more in the future. For this week, I am taking us back to one of the more popular posts from my blog last year. I also found it fitting leading up to my birthday and All Hallows’ Eve next week! Feel free to comment and add to the discussion!

Merciful Death

Cross Walk 2008

Me doing the Cross Walk in 2008

If we honestly looked around our world, we could see plenty of good reasons why people would want to take their lives. Sad? Definitely.

Sorry to be gloomy and maybe even a bit sick, but what if they are on to something?

Sweet Death

I read an article recently in Christian Research Journal (Vol. 34, No. 2, 2011) titled “A Christian View of Human Nature“. The author, John S. Hammet, had this to say about death:

Moreover, may not the end of life in this world be a severe mercy from God? True, death entered the world as the punishment for sin, but a punishment that opened the door to mercy. For once humans had fallen and become like God in knowing, not just good, but now evil, God intervened: “He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and live forever” (Gen. 3:22). It was the mercy of God that established the limitation of life as a fallen human; as redeemed persons, we are welcomed to the tree of life (Rev. 22:3).

Not only could God have allowed death as a mercy to get away from the suffering we brought upon ourselves (and for the record, I am not making any arguments today about the afterlife for all people; this is just about this life), but He used death to defeat death!

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.

But:

Since the children have flesh and blood, [Jesus] too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

From the beginning, God showed us mercy through death. Even if you do not hold to Hammet’s take, here are some examples:

What do you think? Is death God once again showing His grace in the midst of our punishment?