Forgiven and forgiving

John 13

Dirty work

” It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

I’m not sure how we got away from this, the foot washing. I guess some groups still do it. It’s a Maundy Thursday thing. Some groups do it more often. I have washed feet but never have I had my feet washed.

Washing feet is an act of saying we are all human. I fail at perfection. No matter how well I cover up, conceal, perfume or otherwise hide my imperfections my feet will still sweat and stink.

Will you help me not stink? Will I help you not stink? Life is dirty. Feet get dirty. We can cover up or we can confess our human-ness and participate in keeping each other less dirty and less stinky.

It’s not just our feet is it? It’s my heart and my mind. My life and my actions. Will we help each other clean up our life and actions? Will we trust each other?
“But my feet have been in some really deep poop”.

We are all at times in deep poop. Life is at times, deep poop. Deep stinky sticky poop. Are we committed to clean others as we ourselves are cleaned?

Confession and forgiveness. Cleansing each other in a close and personal way.

Christianity isn’t living the perfect life. Christianity is living the forgiven and forgiving life.

Who is he?

Who is this Jesus guy?

That is the most important question we can ever answer. Who is Jesus?

It’s not just a life and death question. It’s an eternal life or eternal separation from God question.

In Matthew 16 Jesus asked his disciples this very question.

“13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter,[b] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[c] will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be[d] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[e] loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.”

In my mind I see Peter answering this casually, with a mouth full of the first century version of potato chips.

Muffled by the food in his mouth and crumbs tumbling out and he said it, “you are the Christ, the son of the living God…”

Only God’s Spirit can reveal this truth to a person.

I pray today that folks that read this post would stop and answer the question for themselves.

Who is Jesus?

For those of us who already know him, I pray there would be fresh revelation of what that means to us and to the world. For those who haven’t discovered who he is yet, may Gods Spirit shine it into your hearts.

Jesus is the messiah, the son of the living God.

#whoisJesus?

The horn button principle

John 12

The horn button principle.

” Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.

23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.

30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up[g] from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.

34 The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?”

35 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.”

The horn button principal. I have A 57 chevy pickup. His name is Rusty. For close to 30 years before I had my truck, I had a 57 chevy truck horn button. It sat on a shelf in my garage. I wanted a truck. I had horn button. When anyone asked about the horn button I would say “I’m growing to grow a 57 Chevy pickup from that horn button”. A long time passed. Finally one day I gave away the horn button. That ended my dream. Or so I thought. Several years went by but around my 50th birthday I got a letter from an uncle saying he had a 57 Chevy truck that he wanted to give me. It was the same person that I had given the horn button to. The day I got the truck I also got the horn button back. I had planted the seed and it germinated and grew into a truck.

The principle is that you have to let the dream die so that it can come back to life. Bigger and better than you could hope for.

Jesus literally planted himself in the earth for us. He died and was buried and came back to life changed. The people who were following him had an idea of who and what Messiah would be. It was wrong or at least incomplete. Messiah wasn’t coming to set Israel free from Roman oppression. Messiah had come to set mankind free from sins oppression. Jesus had to die, the incorrect or incomplete messianic dream had to die so that Jesus could become the real and only hope of freedom from sin.

“25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”

The morning after

You can have chili, cedar cheese crackers and raspberry sorbet for dinner but there is a day of reckoning or in my case, a morning of testing. That meal doesn’t sound like a diabetic rebellion but wow. Ding ding ding! High score for blood sugar.

Spiritually there is stuff we do and get away with that’s off our spiritual diet. We ingest and partake of things that we shouldn’t and because of grace and mercy we are forgiven when we apologize to God.

But there are 2 things I wonder about. The first is, is saying we are sorry the same as repentance? Repentance means to turn around, change course, do a 180 degree turn. The second is, what does this cheating on our spiritual diet do to our spiritual health? We may be forgiven but are we killing the spirits moving and working in our lives?

In the Lutheran liturgy each week as he began his sermon the pastor would say “grace and peace to you, from God our father and from our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ”.
It’s the greeting Pail used in many of his letters, Peter used it too. “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

The reason I mention these scriptures is that they state Jesus’ dual role in the life of the Christian. he is our savior, his death pays for our sin and he is our Lord, our boss, our master, our sovereign King. It means he can tell us what to do and we will obey him. He can also tell us what not to do and we will obey him.

Do we really need a boss in our life telling us what to do and even harder, what not to do? Yes. Yes We do need that because this boss ordering our life Is the same boss who can and will forgive us when we fail him. And besides that His orders are always for our best good.

I sum up.

I fail, in my diet, in my spiritual life. There is forgiveness but there may be consequences, physically and spiritually. Jesus wants to fulfill his dual role in my life, save me from my sins and lead me as a good King. When I fail I should repent, turn around, throw the cheese crackers away! (the sorbet is gone already, burp).

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

Hole-y-ness vs holiness

Beware!

Sorry celiacs but you may want to skip this next post. I’m going to talk about the glory of bread.

Bread glorious bread! The crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy insides. All of the yummy ways we can use it to carry other delicious food types into our mouths like pepperoni and garlic butter and sandwich fillings! I think the best part of bread is the delightful aroma as it bakes. The yeasty smell.

Yeast is pretty amazing stuff. It turns a ball of dough into a loaf of bread by puffing it up. As the yeast activates thousand of bubbles create little pockets of nothing.

In Matthew 16 Jesus talks about yeast. It’s not always a good thing.

“5 When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. 6 “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

7 They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.”

8 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? 9 Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 11 How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

Just like yeast in dough, self righteousness can puff up a person. A puffed up
Person thinks themselves larger and better and self approved and not in need of a savior. But they are, as is a loaf of bread, Full of holes.

When Jesus died he got holes put into his hands and feet. But his death paid for my sin and restores my relationship with God. His holes make me whole. It is nothing I have done. I receive his holiness as a gift because he was willing to receive holes in his hands and feet.

Jesus called himself the bread of life.

“32 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”

35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”’

Beware.

Beware of bread? No.

Beware of yeast, the yeast of the self righteous. Receive the bread of life, Jesus who became hole-y to make us holy and restore us to wholeness.

When my very best isn’t that great

John 12

Giving Jesus our very best.

“12 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took about a pint[a] of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.[b]” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you,[c] but you will not always have me.”

9 Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11 for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.”

Mary gave Jesus the best she had. She gave it freely and extravagantly. “And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”

I don’t have a personal example of this. I can’t say, “it was like that time I…..” I say this to my shame, I am a stingy person. And worse yet, Jesus doesn’t get my reserved best, he gets what I have left at the time. Like right now, I’m scrambling to put thoughts together. It’s like my spiritual life’s feast is a Charlie Brown thanksgiving, toast pretzels and popcorn.

I come to him, just as I am, spent, tired and empty and he still loves me. I long for the day when I can present him me at my very best, but in the meantime he takes me as I am, worn out, broken, used up, confused, distracted and let’s me rest with him. Then he tells me he loves me.

He just wants me, he just wants us to be with him.

It’s a sign

It’s a sign.

Gods master plan wasn’t interrupted by the cross of Jesus. Gods master plan was the cross of Jesus. Don’t think for a minute the Jews conspiring to kill this man was an accident. Jesus knew ahead of time what was coming. He knew he would die a death that pain itself was the killer. The victim is slowly suffocated by pain. He knew. And yet he loved us so much, he did it anyway.

Matthew 16

“16 The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven.

2 He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ 3 and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.[a] 4 A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away.”

The sign of Jonah. Jonah was in the fish three days and three nights. Jesus would soon be in the earth 3 days a 3 nights. The fish couldn’t hold Jonah and death will not, did not, can not hold Jesus.

If you added up what Jesus had done in front of these people to this time in his ministry, like feeding 5 thousand the another 4 thousand with a bag of bread and some fish, healing every person who asked for it, raising the dead back to life, walking on water, calming a storm, all of this had already been displayed, then they asked for a sign from heaven.

What nudge are we waiting for in our generation? It’s always Gods love that draws us in. God loves us. He showed us his love in the sign of Jonah. That Jesus was swallowed up by death but he defeated it. He didn’t need to beat death, he is God, but he knew we needed it because death waits for us all. At death we must cash in our chips to pay for all of mistakes, our sins, our selfishness but we don’t have enough. Our pockets are empty at the grave but Jesus not only beat death, he paid for our sin too. His perfect life sacrificially given up pays for it all.

If you live in Ephrata look up to the top of Beasley hill tonight, there’s a sign there, a sign for each one of us. It’s a cross. God loves us so much that he sent his son to die in our place.

“Lazarus…come out!”

John 11

Jesus brings the dead back to life.

“38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

The Plot to Kill Jesus
45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.

“What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”

49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”

51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.

54 Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the people of Judea. Instead he withdrew to a region near the wilderness, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples.

55 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover. 56 They kept looking for Jesus, and as they stood in the temple courts they asked one another, “What do you think? Isn’t he coming to the festival at all?” 57 But the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who found out where Jesus was should report it so that they might arrest him.”

This story was hard for me to write about. I couldn’t get images of rotting flesh and Zombies out of my mind.

The weird thing is that I have personal experience with being clinically dead. I was in a car accident when I was 11 and was without pulse and not breathing when I arrived at the hospital. My mom arrived just then, saw me and asked some doctors who had just checked me and were walking away if she could talk to me. They said ” it doesn’t matter now”. My mom touched my leg and I started coughing. The doctors spun around and started working on me again. I remember being above my body in the hallway and the return to the pain of being damaged but in flesh.

Jesus spoke to Lazarus. “Come out” and the mound of flesh and bones that was rotting inside a cave came back to life and walked out of the grave. The same voice that had said to pre-existing darkness, ” let there be light” and light came into being, reanimated the body of his friend with 3 words. “Lazarus,come out.”

We are all dead in our sins.

“2 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved”.

We are all dead in our sins but we don’t have stay that way. Jesus speaks to each one of us and says “(your name here), come out”.

Flu and Father Brown

What do a stomach bug and a TV show about a crime solving priest have in common?

Two essential elements of Christianity. That’s what. Repentance and confession. In The series Father Brown is more concerned about the criminal’s soul than he is about solving the crime.

His main goal in the show is to get the guilty party to repent and confess.

Today I came down with a Flu bug. I was at work when I decided to turn around, change direction and go back home. I repented of my decision to go south east to Moses Lake, I turned around and headed north west back to Ephrata.

I was only home a couple of minutes before my stomach confessed of everything I had eaten. It wouldn’t be satisfied with a partial confession, it had to have it all out.

“5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[b] sin.

8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”

Take it from me, when a stomach confesses it is nasty business. All kinds of ugliness comes out. The same is true for a heart and soul.

Usually working together with confession and almost always preceding it, is repentance. My favorite story of repentance is found in the book of Luke. Jesus tells the story of 2 brothers. The younger cashes in his inheritance and goes partying. When he runs out of money he also runs out of friends and ends up destitute, feeding pigs.

“17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.”

The next verses are what I think are the best ever description of God’s Father heart towards us, his wayward children.

““But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”

Are you feeling a long way off? Sometimes I do. It’s mostly my fault too. I go my own way and then feel estranged but Gods heart towards me, towards us has not changed. God is scanning the horizon anxiously waiting for us to return.

Repentance and confession are not our ticket back in to his love. God loves us. Repentance and confession are our way to be purged and healed.

So I say and you can say it with me if like; Forgive me Father, I have sinned against you and against heaven. I am unworthy to be called your child.

And he says about us and to us, welcome home!

What is going on?

What is going on?

Last night I watched episode 5 of “the chosen”. It centers on the wedding in Canna and the miracle of water into wine.

I was moved. Parts that I liked, may have been enhanced due to the current status of social distancing, they were the scenes at the wedding where everyone attending was singing and dancing, it was singing in unity and dancing a prescribed dance but they all knew the words and the motions and there was joy, abundant joy.

One other thing I liked was that before they drank the wine, they praised God who is the king of the universe and thanked him for the fruit of the vine.

This morning I am continuing to read in the book of Revelation. I am up to chapter 4. In chapter 4 John gets invited to “come up here, and I will show you what will happen after this” and he enters through a door opened in heaven.

This is what he saw:
“And instantly I was in the Spirit, and I saw a throne in heaven and someone sitting on it. The one sitting on the throne was as brilliant as gemstones—like jasper and carnelian. And the glow of an emerald circled his throne like a rainbow. Twenty-four thrones surrounded him, and twenty-four elders sat on them. They were all clothed in white and had gold crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning and the rumble of thunder. And in front of the throne were seven torches with burning flames. This is the sevenfold Spirit of God.”
Revelation 4:2-5 – NLT

In front of the throne were 4 four living beings. They were busy, busy worshiping the King of the universe.
“Each of these living beings had six wings, and their wings were covered all over with eyes, inside and out. Day after day and night after night they keep on saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty— the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come.”’
Revelation 4:8 – NLT

I didn’t mention it yet but around the throne the are 24 elders, dressed in white with gold crowns on their heads. They too are busy worshiping the King of the universe.
“Whenever the living beings give glory and honor and thanks to the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever), the twenty-four elders fall down and worship the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever). And they lay their crowns before the throne and say, “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased.”’
Revelation 4:9-11 – NLT

I asked the question in my title, what is going on?

Last night after watching “the chosen” I went into my bathroom and broke down in sobbing worship of the King of the universe. I didn’t know that’s what i needed to do, or was going to do. It felt so good. It felt like I was finally saying and doing something truthful.

Maybe this was an experience that was just for me, just for the moment but the four living beings are worshiping “day after day and night after night”.

Today if you are a believer in Jesus, I encourage you to tell the truth and worship the king of the universe.

Be anxious…for nothing

Remember 2019?

Back in 2019 I suggested to our grow group that we do a study “Anxious for nothing” that Max Lucado has prepared. It is on how to deal with anxiety.

The study focuses on Paul’s letter to the Philippians 4:5-8.

I highly recommend this study. I have mentioned it in my posts before and do so again today.

Why mention it again? Well, because taking that course and studying those verses hasn’t meant that I am now anxiety free. In the last 2 months Life’s anxiety dial has gotten cranked to 11. The course doesn’t teach us how to avoid anxiety, it teaches us how to deal with it when it comes. The way to deal with anxiety is given in the verses in Philippians.
“Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
Philippians 4:5-8 – NLT

There are 2 parts of this that I keep forgetting. The first I keep forgetting, and it is essential for my heart and soul and spirit, is yes to pray about everything, AND be thankful for all that God has done already. I forget to be thankful.

The second part I forget to do is to fix my thoughts on the good things. “what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise”

I keep peeking into the news, looking for bright spots but get sucked into blood clots, and death Rates and who gets it worse, etc. just writing those things kicked up the anxiety levels. But the news is not my reality.

My reality is this: I’m sitting in a warm-ish basement, on a very comfortable couch, I’m listening to my sprinklers sprinkle my lawn, my dog snore, the birds sing, a heater in my bathroom heating where there is a flush toilet AND at least another couple of days supply of toilet paper.

Not everyone reading this has life this good. Some have it worse and some have it better. I need to maintain an attitude of thankfulness to God because he is God. I owe him my very existence.

There are good things to think about and I have to actively guard my thoughts to focus on the good. I recently saw a Facebook post of a proud father helping his son rope a calf. There was a lot of motion and action and determined concentration for everyone involved. It’s like that. Active motion. Thoughtful and mindful thinking. Concentration. I have to police my thoughts like that young man policed his calf.

So here I am confessing I failed- again. I’ve been worried and anxious. I have been ungrateful. The Forgive me father. Thank you for all that you have done in my past and are doing right now in my present and all that you will do in my future. Help me stay in a state of gratitude and thankfulness and to be amazed at all you have done and are doing all around me and even inside me.

Even though they die

John 11

Bloom where you are planted, unless you are dead.

“17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles[b] from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”’

This week some famous people died. George Beverly Shea, 104. Chyna, 46. Prince, 57. My uncle Delvin passed away recently. He was buried next to my parents who both died in 2003, January and June. I stood on the ground that covers my parents remains.

Most people once dead stay dead.

Or do we?

“25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”’

This is the question we all must ask ourselves: Do we believe this?

Jesus will show his authority over death by raising Lazarus. And it won’t be long in our reading of John before Jesus himself is put to death. But death couldn’t hold him.

The questions remain.

Who is this Jesus?

Do we believe him?

I do.

Does it matter? Do I matter?

John 11

Wait, what?

“Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”

9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”

11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”

12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.

14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”’

There are a couple of things that happen here that make me scratch my head.

Jesus said that the sickness wouldn’t end in death but Lazarus dies. But it doesn’t end there.

Lord willing I’ll talk more about that tomorrow.

The second thing is that John mentions a thing about Mary washing and anointing Jesus’ feet as if he had already told us about it but it doesn’t get written in until the next chapter.

I have often felt that in the story of my life I only play a minor supporting role. In the credits of “Peters life, the movie” towards the end, right before they thank the caterers and the city of Ephrata there will be “and Peter Loeffelbein”.

I think lazarus’ sister Mary may have felt that way about her life but her simple act of ministering to Jesus was so well known that John could reference it before he had written it.

I think this says our service to Jesus may be more significant than we know. He remembers it all.

Do the right thing and do it for the right reason and for the right person.

Do it for Jesus. And keep doing it because he remembers it all. Keep serving him. Love people. Serve people. Keep going. He remembers it. He remembers us. It is significant.

We are significant to him.

Our provider

I’ve done the math. God is good.

Mary posted recently about how magical it was to raise 4 kids and the blessing it was to get them all ready on Easter Sunday morning. There was stress and confusion and chaos but was all very sweet too.

What I remember is the amazing way our very small, very limited, very tight budget would be stretched to its ultimate limit at every holiday. The money that we had that barely was enough to feed and clothe and house us would get asked to also help us celebrate.

That’s not entirely accurate, we believe now and believed then that everything we have comes from our father, our Heavenly Father. So we would ask him to provide so we could bless our kids and he always did. God always provided and yet I always worried.

Matthew 15 has Jesus providing healing and food for those he cared about, the multitudes.

“29 Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. 30 Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. 31 The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.

32 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”

33 His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?”

34 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.

“Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.”

35 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. 36 Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. 37 They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 38 The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children. 39 After Jesus had sent the crowd away, he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan.”

If I did the math correctly, by noon today I will make what I used to make per week at my first job that I had raising four kids. Part of that is inflation. All of that is God’s provision. And yet I am worried. What will it take for me to learn to trust God’s provision? I don’t know.

Father God forgive my fearful, doubtful heart ❤️. Thank you for providing for me and my family. Thank you most for sending Jesus to die in my place, to pay a debt I could never pay, and for bringing him back to life to show me that there is more to life than life here. There is a life with you. Thank you.

Writing in the shadows

My wife Mary and I are in a small group. We are using a study guide where we read ahead and answer questions in preparation for the next weeks meeting.

I am in my usual place, sitting in the recliner, my dog Piper snuggled in and asleep next to me. The reading light is behind me so as I write in my answers in my study guide, my hand causes a shadow and I can’t see what I am writing.

I have been writing words on paper since I was about 5 years old, okay 6 years old. I wasn’t the prodigy like my son Aaron who was reading and writing at 3.

I should be able to write and trust my hand is doing what my brain is telling it to do, by without the visual feedback of seeing where the pen is and what I have written, I find it challenging to continue.

This seems like a metaphor for something. Like maybe these very posts. I write but I don’t get a lot of feedback so I don’t know if “my hand is doing” what my brain is trying communicate.

I think maybe the metaphor fits a lot of life’s efforts, like child rearing. We blabber on and on to our kids, doing our best, trying to instill and install the good stuff, and keeping them out of the bad stuff but it’s all done in the shadows of the business of life and we won’t know if they got it or what they got until the light shines on them as they live out their own lives. By then, the ink is on the page and we hope we got it right.

To my kids I say, your mom and I love you to the moon and back. We tried to introduce you to our best friend and savior Jesus. Please forgive our failures and foibles and hang on to the truth of the Bible. Sometimes the shadows of life kept us from seeing what we were writing on your little hearts.

The book of the Bible we are studying is Philippians.

I leave with the one verse that stood out to me from my study.

“For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.”
Philippians 1:29 – NLT

Tax day

It’s April 15th, in America that means income tax day, Where we pay the government our taxes due for the year. Some do it willingly, some begrudgingly, some avoid it or deny it all together.

Looking at a Roman coin, Jesus said to give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and give unto God, what is God’s. The coin had caesars likeness pressed into it. Each of us, each person on the planet has an image pressed into us. We are created in God’s image.

Give unto God, what is God’s.

C.S. Lewis wrote this in his book The Screwtape Letters. The Screwtape Letters is written from the demonic point of view. The Enemy then is God.

“Screwtape acknowledges the truth about ownership:

Even in the nursery a child can be taught to mean by ‘my teddy bear’ not the old imagined recipient of affection to whom it stands in a special relation (for that is what the Enemy will teach them to mean if we are not careful) but ‘the bear I can pull to pieces if I like’. And at the other end of the scale, we have taught men to say ‘ my God’ in a sense not really very different from ‘my boots’, meaning ‘the God on whom I have a claim for my distinguished services and whom I exploit from the pulpit- the God I have done a corner in’.

And all the time the joke is that word ’Mine’ in its fully possessive sense cannot be uttered by a human being about anything. In the long run either our Father or the Enemy will say ‘Mine’ of each thing that exists, and specially of each man. They will find out in the end, never fear, to whom their time, their souls, and their bodies really belong- certainly not to them, whatever happens. At present the Enemy says ‘Mine’ of everything on the pedantic, legalistic ground that He made it: Our Father hopes in the end to say ‘Mine’ of all things on the more realistic and dynamic ground of conquest.”

Whose are we?

We get to choose. God has already bought and paid for us through the death of his son.

On this April 15th tax day, To whom do you belong?

My shepherd

John 10

Jesus is my shepherd.

“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.

7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”’

The bad news is that I have an enemy who wants steal from me, kill me and destroy me.

I have shepherd. My shepherd has laid down his life for me. That is usually mixed news. Yay he died for me but what now, he’s dead. Not so for Jesus. because Jesus didn’t stay dead. He rose again. He is alive. Alive forever. Alive to forever shepherd me. To shepherd us.

That is good news

A poem.

Grow up.
You never have to tell a tree or a tomato what to do
They just do, past tense is grew.
Grow up.
Kids do it, baby goats that is. They grow up.
They give up teats for grassy treats.
Grow up.
Tulips do and daffodils too.
Oaks, and pines and peaches and vines.
Grow up.
Babies of the human type
Hopefully will learn to wipe
As they grow up.
They wobble and bobble and work so hard
To master the gate and get out in the yard
But grow up?
Sometimes yes and sometimes no,
Sometimes fast and sometimes sooo sloooow.
Grow up.
What is needed
How can we help
To mature the inside little whelp?
I have parts of me that are eighty-one
Tired, broken, worn and done.
I have parts that never heard
That little command of just two words
Grow up.
What does a baby need to walk?
What does a baby need to talk?
Time and practice and some teacher(s)
And cheering squad filling the bleacher(s)
We build up endurance
We build up our muscles
With every failure
With every tussle
Grow up.
Get stronger
Grow up
Last longer
Fall fail then stand up
Fall fail then man up
repent and Confess
and show God the mess
and by his compassion and grace
He will wash shame off my face
And allow me to grow up.

” 11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death,[a] and of faith in God, 2 instruction about cleansing rites,[b] the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so. Hebrews 5:11-6:3 NIV

Cleanse from the inside out

No matter how good my shower head is ( and we have a doozy, a brand new $24.79 Walmart unit) a thorough cleaning of my outsides will not clean up my insides. Humans cannot be cleaned from the outside in. We must be cleansed from the inside out.

Matthew 15 starts out with Jesus telling us about this.

“15 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”

3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’[a] and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’[b] 5 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ 6 they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

8 “‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
9 They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’[c]”
10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”

13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides.[d] If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

15 Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.”

16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

With humans we have this heart condition. It is deceitfully wicked. Kind of like a snowflake. The lovely pure white snowflake at its very center is a speck of dirt or dust. At our center, in our heart where we decide things, is a selfish center that we can’t fix or change ourselves. We are hopelessly imperfect. We need a heart change.

The problem with this selfish heart is that it keeps us separated from God. Jesus came to begin the heart change. First, his death and resurrection covers us with a perfection coating that restores our relationship with God. Then he begins to work on our heart. We get a new heart but our nature wants to go back to the “me first” selfishness and there will always be that struggle.

The word is sanctification. The ongoing work to be conformed to the image of Jesus.

Cleansing us from the inside out.

EmPHAsis on the wrong SylLABle

EmPHAsis on the wrong syllABle.

I think I may be guilty of doing that.

I have been posting bible quotes and short studies and most if not all of them mention Jesus dying to pay for, or to forgive our sins. That is correct. He did die, he did rise again from the dead to be alive forever, our sin is forgiven but that isn’t the whole picture. I have said it but I have never emphasized the fact that the reason for Jesus’ death isn’t primarily for our forgiveness, the primary reason is so we can be restored to our relationship with our Heavenly Father. We have to be forgiven to be in Gods presence but God doesn’t want us washed clean just so we can sparkle people with our brilliant white holy robes. He wants us to hang out with him.

As a dad I know how important it is for my kids to want to spend time with me. God is our Heavenly Father. God wants me to want hang out with him. He wants us to hang out with each other and with him.

I have done one other thing in these posts that I think I should correct. I have avoided using the word “you”. I felt like I was pointing ☝️ a preachers finger and so avoided it. We are all in the same boat. All sinners, every one of us. What I say of my condition is true of you and what I see in your condition is also true of me. I may begin to use you, I mean use “you”.

Speaking of boats, we have a boat, a boat story in Matthew 14.

“22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

34 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.”

Why did the savior walk across the lake?

To get to the other side!

We don’t have all the answers. We know what and who, we know where and when but we don’t know how or why. Jesus can walk on water. I don’t think he was showing off. He does show his divinity or at the very least his supernatural power over the elements in this act.

Then there’s Peter.

“If it’s you then call me over,” (????) He did it but then sank. Peter walked on water. Then he doubted and sank.

This Peter, me, I would’ve stayed in the boat. I have stayed in the “boat”, most of the time but sometimes Jesus will call us out of the “boat”, call me out of the “boat”, call you out of the “boat”. (The “boat” meaning the secure safe place in our life.) He will also catch us when we sink. Why? Because he loves us and wants to have a relationship with us.