Tag Archives: Jesus

Prideful Humility

“‘Come,’ he said.  Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.”  Matt 14:29,30

Complete abandonment.  Peter never gave a second thought to stepping out of the boat.  No deep breath, no psyching up, no preparation, no theological consideration, no examining the pros and cons.  Just complete abandonment.

It made no sense.  I’m sure at least one of the others tried to grab him when they realized what he was doing.

Grown men yelling and falling over each other as they tried to grab Peter’s arm.  “No…wait, it’s too dangero…!  You swim like a “rock”!”  (Get it.  I made a pun.) But he shakes their grip, his arm slips from their hands and they’re left clutching sweat and salt water.  Wide eyed they stare over the side of the boat.

Are you willing to jump out of the boat when He calls?  Even when it makes no sense?  Or when those around you, even other Christians, tell you that you’re nuts, it will never work?

Are you completely abandoned to the sound of His voice?  When He says jump, do you ask how high on the way up?

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“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!”

One minute Peter’s full of reckless abandon, the next his lungs are full of burning salt water and his heart’s full of doubt.

How quickly we lose our vision.  We make a decision then come face to face with the reality of it.  The wind stings our eyes to tears and the waves beat us into submission.  Sometimes doubt doesn’t creep in, it bowls us over like a gale force wind.

But look at Peter’s example.  It doesn’t say he struggled against the wind, reached back to the boat, or tried to swim or even tread water.  He did the only thing that would save him, he cried out through the choking briny spray, “Lord, save me!”.

So the next time you look down on Peter’s lack of faith, don’t be too harsh.  He was humble enough to know he couldn’t save himself, and didn’t hesitate to cry out. He knew Jesus would still be there.

When the next storm hits, don’t wait, call out His name.  He’s still right there.

That’s why worship.

The Great Race

“And now these three remain, faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” I Corinthians 13:13

We have a game we like to play in our family. It can start at anytime, without any notice. Someone makes the first play by saying, “I love you.”

The other player responds with, “I love you, two [sic].”

Player one replies, “I love you, three.”

Player two, “I love you, four.”

The winner is the one who gets to rhyme with four and say, “I love you, more!”

Sometimes we play the game across a crowded room using sign language. Other times we pass notes back and forth during church.

On occasion we play it while holding hands. Three squeezes means, “I love you”. Four squeezes in response translates as, “I love you, two”, one squeeze for each word. Five squeezes, “I love you, three”, and so on until the winner responds with a “machine gun” of “I love you” squeezed signifying, “I love you, more!”

As a sign of our times, we’ve even been known to play the game via e-mail, instant messages and texting…even while gathered in the same room with our notebooks and phones on our laps!

I don’t remember when the game started. I have fond memories of playing it with all of the children since they were toddlers. My hands can still feel the quick, repetitive “squeeze, squeeze, squeeze” of little fingers wrapped around one of mine announcing, “The game is on!” Back and forth the squeezing or signs or some other form of communication would go; lob and volley, thrust and parry, offense and defense. And, it would always end the same way, “I love you, more!” with player two then feigning disappointment at losing.

The game was probably invented by Jennifer while we were still dating. So, it’s been played for quite a while. Played hundreds of times, maybe thousands, over all those years it was simply enough to “win.” That’s the only lesson I learned and, frankly, it’s the only lesson that mattered…”But the greatest of these is love.”

That is, until recently. In the last year I’ve discovered a pattern in the game that has eluded me for years. It’s a pattern that is innately part of the fabric, the DNA, of the game. If the players follow the rules of the game the pattern reveals itself each and every time it is played. And, this pattern goes against the very concept of fair play. It reveals that the game is rigged!

You see, regardless of the age or ability or aptitude or experience of the game the outcome is always the same. Without fail the game always ends with, “I love you, more!” And, provided the rules are followed, PLAYER ONE ALWAYS WINS!!! One hundred percent of the time, without any question, the one who says, “I love you” first wins. Once someone “loves” the outcome is assured.

When I perform wedding ceremonies I, of course, use I Corinthians 13, The Love Chapter. I challenge the bride and groom, and by proxy those gathered, to make their relationship(s) a race to see who can love first. Who does the dishes first? Who does the laundry first? Who mows the lawn first? Who washes the car first? Who gives up the remote first?

Who says, “I love you” first?

And in this, as well, the pattern reveals itself, whoever loves first wins!

Perhaps the more appropriate verse is Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

The authorized Joe Bassett paraphrase states it this way, “Price paid, life-debt forgiven (in fact, He overpaid and didn’t ask for change); game, set, match; mercy rule applied…Jesus wins!” Jesus loves us more. He loves more than we can ever love, He loves more than we can ever know, He loves more than we can ever imagine. He loved first…He wins.

Yep, the game is rigged and the outcome a foregone conclusion. Get over it…enjoy it…revel in it…celebrate it…bask in it. Do everything except try to deal with it because you’ll never get your mind around it. And, that’s OK. His love is an ocean, drown in it.

That’s why worship.

Jesus Saves

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” John 3:17

Today’s post wasto be a marvelous tomeexpoundingonthe impact ofour personal testimony; howour personal, life-changingexperience can’t be impuned andhowour radical experiencewith Jesus canliterally destroyall the logical, self-aggrandizing, over-confident, arrogant arguments that stand against the completely unreasonable, yet complete truth, of the Gospel.

It was truly literature of epic proportions!

Alas, my computer insisted on an automatic restart and my new fancy-dancy blogging software with the draft auto-save feature…well, didn’t. After writing well over 450 words of world changing prose it only saved the first half-paragraph.

So in lieu of the greatest defense of the Gospel ever written I’m posting an old, crusy joke. It just seems appropriate. I’ll rewrite “the greatest blog ever written” after I finish pouting.

Jesus and Satan got into an argument over which of them was the better computer programmer.

Finally, God got tired of the bickering and told them that he would judge a contest between them. They each had four hours to write the best program they could, and then God would decide the winner.

Well, they both got right down to business, and wrote lines and lines and lines of code. Both wrote exquisite lines of code. Bits and bytes flew across the universe with brilliance. Each created code in languages old and new; COBAL, C++, HTML, Java…even some that “no eye had seen and no ear had heard. It was the mostmarvelous display of cross-platform compiling ever witnessed.

But, just before the four hours were up there was a flash of lightning and a tremendous clap of thunder. The lights flickered, the power faltered, and both computer screens went dead.

When power was restored, God declared that time was up and asked to see the results of their work. Jesus flipped on his computer and displayed the most elegant program you could imagine, with beautiful architecture and wonderful syllogisms, triumphs of multimedia sound and pictures — all kinds of bells and whistles.

God asked Satan what he had created, but Satan dejectedly replied, “I’ve got nothing, absolutely nothing. My program was twice as good as that, but I lost it all when the power went out. Jesus must have cheated. How could he still have such a great program?”

To which God replied, “Silly Evil One, everybody knows — Jesus Saves.”

Please keep your moans to yourself.

The Law of Conservation of (Spiritual) Energy

“At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in Egypt…”, “…Pharoah summoned Moses and Aaron and said, ‘Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested.'” Exodus 12:29 & 31

Ten plagues it took for Pharaoh to change his mind: blood, frogs, gnats, flies, dead livestock, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, death of the firstborn.

A few days ago I wrote that the reason Moses asked for the people of Israel to be let go was to go in the desert to worship (“Worship in the Desert“). Repeatedly God told Moses to make that request of Pharaoh. Repeatedly God let Moses in on the fact that He would harden Pharaoh’s heart and that the request would be denied. But, Moses dutifullyconfronted Pharaoh knowing full well that it was a fool’s errand.

For those of you that follow my blog you know that I have a category of posts about scripture passages that are confusing to me or, frankly, I just “don’t get.” It doesn’t meanthat I don’t accept them as the inerrant word of God, but I just don’t understand why God put them there…yet.

This is one of them. Ihave a hard time figuring out why God would purposely harden someone’s heart. I canconsider it in my head, but my heart doesn’t quite wrap all the way around it. I understand, intellectually, that God used all of the plagues and the deliverance of the Hebrews from them for His glory, but my heart feels there must have been a better way. Obviously, there wasn’t a better waybecause if there was God would have done it that way. But,something nags at me that there must be more. I want justa glimpse of God’s thinking. I echo the words of Einstein, “I want to know God’s thoughts, the rest are mere details.”

And then, there it is. Einstein…physics…a piece of the puzzle. Particularly, the law of conservation of energy. Itstates that energy may neither be created nor destroyed. It simply becomes a different form of energy: kinetic may become potential or heat become light, but energy cannot be created from nothing or annihilated to nothing.

God wanted the Hebrews to be free. While some biblical scholars don’t believe they were slaves in the traditional sense of being owned by individual slave owners, the Hebrew words used to describe them and their forced labor certainly implies a sub-human status in Egyptian society. Based on the Egyptians’ treatment of the Hebrews it’s not difficult to imagine them being regarded as possessions or tools as oppossed to living, breathing beings.

In short, the Egyptiansregarded God’s chosen people equallyuseful either alive as forced-laborers or dead as fertilizer for their crops. Let’s go with the latter, for now.

If we regard the captive Hebrews as lifeless possessions exploited at the whim of the Egyptians, then freedom for them toworship inthe desertmeant “life” to them. In fact, inExodus 6:6 God says, “…I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm…” Redeemed here is “ga^al” which could be translated as”to redeem individualsfrom death.”

Are you still with me? Life is free…life ispassionate…life is energy. Life without freedom…life without passion…life without energy is, at the risk ofbeing obvious, dead. According to the law of conservation of energyif the Hebrews were to be set free from captivity, to come “alive”, then someone had to die. In this case, it was the firstborn of the Egyptians; in particular the firstborn of the King or Pharaoh that had to die.

Now, I know that this doesn’t answer my initial question of why the first nineplagues were necessary, but it does help with why the last one was. In order forsomeone to be free to live (spiritually), someonemustdie (spiritually).

If we jump into Mr. Peabody’s Wayback Machine and speedfrom the Old Testamentto the New Testament we find the same law of physics applies. Only now it’s God’sSon, the Firstborn ofThe King,thatdiedso that others could be free to live. And, Jesus’ passionate love for us was so full of”infinite energy” that His death was more than enough in exchangefor the life of every man, woman and child in the world! But, He had to die so that wecould live. And, we get to die to ourselves so that He can live through us. Jesus didn’t come to make people better, He came to bring dead people to life (please see earlier”Worship in the Desert“regarding “have to” and “get to”) .

And, “Jesus-life” is freedom. Before He brings us to life we’re just dead, possessions being exploited by some slavemaster: lust, drugs, porn, money, power, status, control…whatever it is it keeps us dead, it keeps us captive so that we can’t “go to the desert to worship the Lord.” Someone had to die so that I could live. Jesus was that someone. He died so that I could be free to worship.

That’s “why worship.” Worship isn’t to set me free; it’s because I amfree. “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Free to worship!