…And after that…

It’s your funeral. I have heard that said warning someone of impending danger and doom. Well, it’s your funeral. It really is. We’ll each get one so it’s my funeral too. We are all going to Die!

I’ve been reading a book by Robert
Wolgemuth called “Lies Men Believe: And the Truth that Sets Them Free”

In it he quotes Hebrews 9:27.
“ Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,”
Heb 9:27 NIV

He focused on the words, …and after that.

We know intellectually that we will die. We will all die. Forgone conclusion and yet we do anything and everything to not think about it.

Dying is bad enough but what if we tack onto that, tack onto that we will face judgement for our lives. That is not a pleasant thought, quick, someone or something please distract me. I don’t want to even think about it. There must be something shiny, or funny to show me. Maybe some Office reruns.

Well heck.

The bad news first. You mean death isn’t the bad news?

The Bible tells that we are all guilty of sin. Most of us feel we aren’t that bad, haven’t robbed a bank or killed anyone so comparatively we are doing okay. Then along comes Jesus. First he tells us that thinking about it is the same as doing it. So those hidden fantasies, like revenge or a lustful escapade. They are the same as if we did the deed. We are all Guilty. Then second Jesus lived a perfect life. Not just a really really good life. A perfect life. He is now the standard. Perfection is the standard that we will be judged against.

Appointed once to die and after that, judgement. I’m not the judge. I know the judge. He happens to be my Father. I will get family privileges, you see my older brother is Jesus. The Jesus. God my father adopted me. He was able to do that because Jesus my brother died to pay for all my sins. It’s okay. He rose from the dead 3 days later. Now he is alive forever.

The really cool part is that Jesus is my brother, and my savior and ALSO he is my lawyer. Yes I will die and face judgement, by my Dad, and my perfect older brother will be defending me. Do you want the same deal? Jesus as my defense attorney and as my older brother. As they used to say on TV call now! Operators are standing by. Jesus will always answer the call.

A tool for building a kingdom

A very long time ago a man who is gifted in the prophetic gifts gave a bible verse to Mary and me. He gave us more than one but as I was reading through 1 Corinthians 16 I saw it and remembered that day.

The verse is 9 but I will put it in context and add some at the beginning. This is Paul speaking to his congregation at Corinth.

“After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you—for I will be going through Macedonia. 6 Perhaps I will stay with you for a while, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. 7 For I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, 9 because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.”

This verse and this event take me back to a time when my belief was new and exciting and scary. God spoke to me then through this man, a prophet. He is speaking now through the Bible and through other believers but it isn’t as specific as that verse was to me that day.

I don’t know how that verse has been fulfilled in my life, at the time, it made me think of mass evangelism but that isn’t what I have done. I raised a family. I worked and lived and Mary and I stayed married. I haven’t started any churches like Paul did. I served in one, the same one for about 32 years.

This verse though makes me think of another verse that explains my life a little better.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

This verse makes me think that God isn’t a trophy maker, He is a tool maker. When we are saved he changes us into tools that he can then use to enlarge His kingdom.

As a electrician I know that every job requires specific tools to get the job done.

Father God, May I be one of those tools in Your hands today.

Living in the Beyond

I want to live beyond.

It’s a longing of my soul that nothing here can satisfy, no drink can slake my thirst.

Part of the call is a call to adventure. Mary and I took a trip to Italy, that’s how it looked on paper. What we really did was answer a call to an adventure.
I recently read this quote by Chesterton “an adventure by its nature, a thing that comes to us. It is a thing that chooses us, not a thing we choose”. Mary and I have had many late night talks about going back but if we do, it would be a trip we planned, not an adventure. I keep watching and waiting to hear adventure call again. Two years before that we went on the adventure of recording her album. An adventure has at its core, a greater purpose, a bigger story where even if our role is only as an extra, or a gaffer, (whatever that is, I’ve seen it in movie credits) we are part of a bigger story.

I said that I want to live beyond, not the great beyond necessarily, I would gladly go there, but while I’m still in this body on this planet with all of you, I want to live in the beyond. I want to live beyond hopeful, and be confident. (Right now if my wife is reading this she’s probably thinking “I’d settle for hopeful”, I tend to be doubtful). I think this is new thing.

I want to live beyond thankful and I’m not sure what that is, possibly generous? Generously.

I want to live beyond forgiven. What is that? Forgive-ing? There are more of these than i can think of now, living beyond, and I’m hoping that I live the rest of my days in the beyond.

It starts with feeling like this about God.

“Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind! Praise our God, all peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard; he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping.”
Psalm 66:5,8-9

Starting at grateful but living beyond it, worshipful? My acts of worship sometimes focus on the warm fuzzies I get when I touch the heart of God, those are so beautiful, I always cry…then the snot. Being so grateful that worship becomes my normal. But actually focusing on blessing God with my worship, without the hoping and planning for what it does for me.

Anyway, If were going to say how I want this next year to be different, that would be to start living in the beyond, and maybe my adventure will never take me outside the boundaries of my life now, but it will be moving into something new. I can feel spring breezes of change faintly blowing in my soul already, scented with petunias and pines and ocean sprays and I can faintly hear the babble of babies and rivers and i hear the unfamiliar languages of the angels.

Beyond is calling, no, Jesus is calling, he is calling me to begin to live beyond…

Christmas Dispensation and dispersal

It’s the same tree that we’ve had, but it always makes me sad to take it down. Tonight is its last night. I tell you there are fairies and elves and angels living in this magical thing. It makes smile even if I am sad, I still get and give presents even if I’ve been bad. Jesus, his sacrifice, He himself being the gift. God kind of magic. I didn’t say good magic. God magic. Where He trades beauty for ashes and the oil of joy for mourning. Where bad guys get changed into good men. Where black sin is washed away by red blood and it becomes white as snow. All of that is woven into this magical tree. Tonight, I am praying that the magic is distilled and sprinkled on us as we sleep so January second becomes the start of Christmas magic being dispersed and dispensed through Mary and I for the rest of the year. On mission. Loving broken and fallen people through the God magic of Christmas. ❤️🎄

New year on the horizon!

Truth be told this from a memory 4 years ago but the message is the same this year.

It is New Year’s Eve. 2022 is almost in the books. Some of this year has been very good. Some of it not so much. We did some amazing things. But some of my bad habits followed me. I tend to focus on my failures because I want to not repeat them. I opened my bible ap and this is what I read:

“This is what the LORD says— he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

I believe in and worship and follow and am lead by an invisible God. I believe he created and sustains everything that exists. The earth will revolve on its axis and the sun will appear on the eastern horizon because a God who can create everything from nothing has said it should be so. God has revealed himself in a couple of ways, through his word, the Bible and through his son, Jesus. This Jesus lived a perfect life, and yet was brutally killed. We sing about his death. I was struck with how odd that must sound to people who don’t know the story. Why do we sing about his death? We believe that his death paid for our sins and we believe that death could not hold this Jesus, that he physically rose from the dead three days later. We believe that since death cannot hold Jesus, that it also has no power over those who believe in him.

This is the eve of a an old year being changed into a new year. Will you give some serious thought tonight about asking God to make changes in your life? I am. I am asking God to help me in how I spend my time and how I spend my money. I have already given him my heart and life and he has forgiven me all of my sin and welcomed me into his family. He will do the same to anyone who will confess with their mouth that he is their Lord, and believe in their heart that he rose from the dead.

Will you let God do a new thing in your life in 2023?

#sharethismessage, #hope, #newyearnewlife

The junk man cometh

I’ve had this nagging problem that I’ve hinted at but I am prompted to share it and add what God is doing to help me.

The problem is that I don’t feel like God really loves me. I believe that I am saved by Jesus, but it feels like it was like a person at a yard sale who buys a box of junk because he sees in it some treasures. He has to buy the entire box just to get the treasures. I feel like the junk in the box that gets bought because God has to take all of us.

I was thinking about this yesterday and wondering if I should post about it, I was driving in Wenatchee at the time and just then a large truck drove past me, with large letters that read, “the junk man”. It said something about taking all your stuff or something to that effect.

As I Started to write this down I felt if God asked me what it I wanted? My brain didn’t have an answer but My heart yelled out, “I want to be your favorite!”

My brain was embarrassed by my hearts outburst. I expected a rebuke from God or at least an explanation by God of how he can’t have any favorites. Instead I felt like God Said “oh Peter, don’t you know, you are my favorite! My favorite Peter Loeffelbein” and then in my mind I saw a picture of God at the garage sale searching through the box, looking for me, I was the treasure he was seeking.

Tears and snot came next.

This is how God feels about me.

It also how God feels about you. We are each one of us, his favorite, His treasure.

My hope is that you read this and feel in your heart, God’s great love for you. I hope it brings hope and joy to you, that it breaks the crust off your heart like it did mine. God loves us all. Truth. But God loves me. You can say that too. God loves me, he sent his son to seek me. Seek you.

Now you say it.

God loves me. It’s true.

Hide and seek- we hide, Jesus seeks

Who does Jesus call on? Who is Jesus seeking out? He is looking for those who need help and know they need help.

“ Then Jesus went out to the lakeshore again and taught the crowds that were coming to him. As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Levi got up and followed him. Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus’ followers.) But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?” When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”
Mark.2:13-15,NLT

I am one of those. I am one who was lost and wounded and broken. Jesus sought me out, he found me, is healing my wounds and fixing my broken parts. Do you need that kind of friend today? Will you answer Jesus’ gentle call? He is seeking out those who are trapped in the rubble of our collapsed and broken world. He loves you and longs to offer you help and healing. I know. I am one of those he sought and found.

A Barney Miller Christmas

I was at church this morning helping the worship team set up. We sat down to pray and I was suddenly remembering a Barney Miller episode. It was the one where the sweet older lady was arrested for writing bad checks. She was in the early stages of dementia. She was confused about why she had been arrested. One of the officers patiently explained to her that she owed several thousands of dollars to various people and businesses. She acted as though she understood and said “well let’s take care of that right now, I’ll just write you a check….”

That is where we all are morally. We are bankrupt but keep writing checks, asking for something or someone to cover us. We think that doing good deeds fills our checking account but according to the Bible, in God’s eyes our good deeds are like, this is kind of gross, like used menstral clothes, used sanitary devices. Our good deeds are worthless to God yet we hope to fill up our moral checking account with them, to balance the bad we do with some good deeds. It doesn’t work. It’s like writing a check on an overdrawn account to cover the overdrafts.

There is good news in all this. God himself has said that he can and will and has completely covered our debt. He did this in Jesus, in his death and resurrection. That is why his coming to earth is so important. It continues God’s plan forward.

The apostle Paul said this in his letter to the Christians in Rome, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Romans 5:6-11

He says this later in the same letter, “But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”
Romans 10:8-11

This Christmas God is waiting and wanting all of us to receive his gift, the best gift ever, forgiveness of sins, welcome into family and eternal life with him in a place where there are no tears or pain, only love and joy.

Running the race focused on Jesus

Hebrews 12

Focus on Jesus and run the race naked.

Maybe that would be better stated, run unencumbered. I understand that the original Olympians ran without clothes so as to be free as possible. I think that’s the idea.

“12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Getting to be with Jesus, becoming more like him. I don’t want to lose sight of Jesus. Especially in this Christmas season. Life doesn’t stop during Christmas. So we have life plus-and all the extra stuff that Christmas brings. Somewhere in all the tree trimming, lights, packages, people, sugar cookies and gingerbread there is a baby. Our God became flesh, he is with us and will live among us. He came for a purpose. He came to be a sacrifice, to die to pay for all of our sin.

I want to run the endurance race of my faith as if nothing will stop me or slow me down. I want to focus at this time of year on a baby, a baby born to save me, save us. He is man, he is God, he is our savior and he is our king.

There is a great group of people who have already finished their race. They stand to give us encouragement.

In everything I do this Christmas I am going to try and find the baby. Find Jesus in what I do. He is in there.

God with us

This is one of my favorite hymns. It’s not officially a Christmas hymn, it is written for the season just before Christmas called advent. It is the season that anticipates what God will do.

My favorite line in the song is this: “rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel has ransomed captive Israel”.

The Emanuel means God with us. God, the holy one, the one who is not created but is everlasting and eternal, the being who created everything, every thing that exists, the God who is all powerful, all knowing, always and everywhere present, that God, came down here to earth and has experienced life as one of us humans, not as a king or a superhero, but he came as we do, as a baby, born to peasants, poor peasants. He came with a purpose, that purpose was and is to ransom us, to buy us back, to pay the price for our slavery. One slavery is obvious and part of everyone’s life, that slavery is found in part, just a few blocks from my house, that lovely green lawn with all of the beautiful stone markers. We will All end up there, a cemetery, we are all slaves to death. The second slavery isn’t as obvious, sin. To define sin is to say anything less than perfect behavior. It is missing the bullseye. Some can do it some areas some of the time. But we need to do it in all areas, all of the time, for our entire life. Impossible. But that is what separates us from God, our imperfections. My company makes high purity chemicals. They need to be very pure, parts per billion pure. If there is 1 bad piece and 999,999,999 good pieces, it isn’t perfect. Spiritual perfection is even more demanding, Add nines out to infinity, all of those nines, perfect nines, waiting for that last one so they can all be turned to zeros but the last one is bad as all of those nines disappear because of the one bad one. Imperfect. Most of us aren’t that good, none of us are, but God is. Jesus lived that life, nines to infinity and then he added the last perfect one, he died in our place. He won our victory over imperfection and he gives us that freedom, freedom from death, freedom from imperfection.

This Christmas Jesus can ransom us, because he is Emanuel, the God who is with us.

“O come, O come, Emmanuel

And ransom captive Israel

That mourns in lonely exile here

Until the Son of God appear

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free

Thine own from Satan’s tyranny

From depths of Hell Thy people save

And give them victory o’er the grave

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, o Israel

O come, Thou Day-Spring

Come and cheer

Our spirits by Thine advent here

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night

And death’s dark shadows put to flight

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, o Israel

O come, Thou Key of David, come

And open wide our heavenly home

Make safe the way that leads on high

And close the path to misery

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, o Israel

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might

Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height

In ancient times did’st give the Law

In cloud, and majesty and awe

Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, o Israel

My personal restoration process

My personal restoration process.

I work at a chemical plant. My job is in process controls. I create the computer graphics and logic so that an operator can click a button on a screen and a valve will open somewhere in the plant. I always hope it’s the correct valve.

Occasionally There are conditions that I have to insert in the logic. Like don’t open valve X if tank Y is above level Z. It’s called interlock logic.

I have talked and talked about Gods unconditional love for us. He has shown us how much he loves us by giving up his only son Jesus. Jesus died to pay for our sin. He rose again to show that he has defeated death and to give us hope of eternal life.

God has given us his Unconditional love, but there is one small tiny catch. Gods love for us is unconditional as long as it is flowing. His love must flow into us to wash us and forgive us, and flow out of us, for us to forgive others. As soon as his love begins to pool in us, as soon as we stop forgiving others, it stops flowing to us. There is an interlock on God’s forgiveness.

We see Jesus teach this principle at the end of the Lord’s prayer.

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

10 your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us today our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]

but deliver us from the evil one.[b]’

14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Jesus shared a story to illustrate this point. It’s found in Matthew 18

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.[g]

23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold[h] was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[i] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

I think Gods #1 priority is restoration. Our restoration. In my world it’s my restoration. The fuel of Gods restoration process is forgiveness. When a project runs out of fuel it stops. When forgiveness stops flowing in my life my restoration stops. I cannot have enemies. Not from my point of view anyway. Others can hate me but I cannot hate them back. It goes deeper than that. I cannot hold unmet expectations over someone’s head. I must forgive them, let go of the expectations and love them at ground zero, that place at the foot of the cross where I get my forgiveness. It’s level there. No steps to climb. No podiums to stand on. No hoops to jump through. No bars to leap over or to break through. Free access to Jesus and his forgiveness. As long as I give it away in the same way I receive it.

Father God thank you for beginning my restoration. Thank you for giving your son to die in my place. Forgive me when I fail to forgive others. Help me to keep the flow of your love and forgiveness moving in my life by giving it away in the same manner in which it was given, freely and lavishly.

“Simon son of John, do you love me?“

It must’ve been hard to do.

Make the change from being a follower of Jesus to a teller about Jesus. From having him there with them to having him pop in and out of life unexpectedly.

This next bit is a paraphrase told from the perspective of the once disciple, now apostle, Peter.

I remember that day…

What to do? Let’s go fishing. Fishing is what we do, Simon and Thomas and Nathaniel, James and John. Fishermen. It’s what we do, it’s what we know, it’s how we provide for our families. Fished all night and got nothing. Some guy on the beach shouting instructions on how to catch fish…we’ll try it.

Whoa! Wow! So many fish, almost too many fish. One fish, two fish red fish, 152 fish. (Plus one).

This all seems so familiar, I’ve had this happen before. It was Jesus on the shore.

A quick swim, some breakfast, fish hauling ashore and then the “chat”.

For 3 years we’ve hung out with Jesus. On meeting me he said he would change my name. Now, after the denial, ( three denials, if you’re counting) and the resurrection we are back to Simon son of John. Not Peter. Simon.

Then the questions, do I love him more than these? Do I️ love Jesus more than my fishing buddies do? At one time in the not so distant past I️ claimed that I️ did.

Then the questions come. Jesus could’ve used 4 different words for the word love in his questions. He went straight to the highest, the strongest, the purest, do I Simon, love, agape love, Jesus?

It may be my failures and denials but all I can muster is “you know I love you like a brother, I️ phileo you Jesus”.

He gives me a job. “Feed my lambs”.

Then he asks me again, do I Simon, agape him, Jesus?

“Jesus, I love you, like a brother” is my answer.

“Take care of my sheep”.

He asks again, a third time. I didn’t get why he asked me twice but it becomes clear as he asks the third time, my mind went back to that horrible early morning, my third denial, “I tell you I do not know the man”….and then began swearing like a fisherman.

The third and last question Jesus asks, “Simon, son of John, do you love me….like a brother?”

I’m hurt and frustrated, so my answer is terse, “ you know all things, you know I love you like a brother..”
Again, “Feed my sheep…”

And then I get the prophecy about my death.

“18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”
John 21:18

There are 2 things that encourage me here. “When you are old,” it isn’t eminent, and “old” I will continue to follow Jesus for the rest of my life.

This is one of the memories I think about as I write to those followers of Jesus who will continue after I’m dead. They will continue to tell others about our Jesus.

Add to your faith…brotherly love, and add to that, Agape love, God kind of love, selfless, others first, die in your place, kind of love. Add that to your faith in Jesus. Then you will be able to be fruitful and productive in your faith.

Jesus welcomed me back, I fell, I fell further and harder but his love covered my failures. His love will always do that. It will always cover over our sin.

Just keep on…

Hebrews 10c

Persevere.

One more look at chapter 10. It is a long chapter with so much to say to us.

“Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. 35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.”

Perseverance is maintained by remembering. Remembering the joy of forgiveness. Being released from shame and regret. Remembering who carries our sin and why. Why does Jesus carry our sin? He loves us. He loves me. Remembering that we are part of a community of faith, a body, and each part supports the other parts. Every part is essential to the survival of the other parts.

“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For,

“In just a little while,
he who is coming will come
and will not delay.”[f]
38 And,

“But my righteous[g] one will live by faith.
And I take no pleasure
in the one who shrinks back.”[h]
39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.”

In a just a little while the writer said 2000 years ago. He is closer today than ever before. Let’s get ourselves ready. Good servants have their chores done and watch and wait for their master. When he steps back into our world I want to hear him say to us “well done good and faithful servants”.

The new is better- Jesus is the new.

(Another memory in studying Hebrews)

Hebrews 10

This book is written to a group of people who wanted to go back. Go back to the old familiar.

I am reading my bible In the early morning darkness through the wizardry and technology of the electric light bulb. The old technology- candle or lamp, basically portable and containable fire, was good but this is better. I don’t want to go back.

New is usually better. That’s why it’s here. If there wasn’t room for improvement we would have never sought a replacement.

“Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

The new is better. Jesus is better.

“11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”

Jesus came and replaced the old system. One sacrifice for all people, for all of our sin for all time.

Thank you Jesus! You are the light of the world. Shine on us.

What does that mean for our lives?

Connecting the dots

Hebrews 9

Connect the dots.

As a kid I was more of a free hander drawing what else? Race cars. Occasionally I would allow someone else to dictate what the drawing would be and follow the numbered dots with my crayon. Most of the time I wouldn’t follow the order and just guess by the suggested shape of the dots. If I drew straight lines between all the dots the shape would look funny. In nature, Very rarely are there straight lines.

Judaism and its practices were a connect the dots so to speak. The temple sacrifices and ceremonies were, once completed, a set of things to show us who Jesus is and what he came to do.

“When Moses had proclaimed every command of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. 20 He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.”[a] 21 In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. 22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

23 It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. 25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”

In my bible I have verses 22&28 underlined.

Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. It can’t be my blood. I am sinful. Jesus sacrificed his perfect blood for our sins.

“and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”

I’m waiting for him. Will you watch and wait with me? There is much to do while we wait. Many who don’t know that their sins are all forgiven. We must let them know. Jesus left us with an open invitation and it read, Bring a guest. Bring lots of guests.

A new and improved promise

Hebrews 8

The new and improved promise.

The letter of Hebrews was written to first century Jewish Christians. They were familiar with the ceremony and practices in the temple. The writer was reminding them that Jesus is the new way of life. What he brings to them and us is a vast improvement over the past.

“But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.

7 For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8 But God found fault with the people and said[b]:

“The days are coming, declares the Lord,
when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
and with the people of Judah.
9 It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,
and I turned away from them,
declares the Lord.”

The new covenant will include God writing his laws on our minds and hearts. And….

“No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”[c]
13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.”

The new and improved way to God is through Jesus. We no longer need the flesh and blood of animals to pay for our sins. We have the sacrifice of Jesus. We no longer rely on a line of men just as fallen as we are to go to God for us. We can go to Jesus who is our priest and our mediator and our sacrifice. He lived the human experience and did not miss the mark, he did not sin.

Jesus, he knows us, knows what it’s like to be us, loved us enough to die for us and stands before God the father on our behalf.

Repeat after me: Jesus loves me. That is what this book is all about.

Farm to table thoughts on Christmas

(Farm to table makes me think of a bunch of carrots or radishes pulled from the ground, given a quick rinse and plopped on a plate- that’s what this post is raw and rinsed but not very well. Thoughts that i just kept adding to, then remembering verses to go along side the thoughts. Thoughts that grew in my head and I just plopped them down on this page. So watch out. Chew carefully.)

Christmas thoughts

There are new words that get brought into our vocabulary during the Christmas season. We hear them when we listen to Christmas music. One word is Emmanuel. It is a name of God, it means God with us.

The word shows up in the Bible as a prophecy about the coming messiah in Isaiah 7:14.

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

Isa.7.14 NIV

God had been around and among and above and over us but a time would come that God himself would be with us.

We hear the story in the lyrics of the old Christmas Carol “O’ come O’ come Emanuel”

“O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.”

Jesus had a good thing going.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

John.1.1-5 NIV

Yet he laid all of that down. Jesus willingly had human limitations put on himself.

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he 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. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”

Heb. 2.14-18NIV

Some changes Jesus went through to consider this Christmas season.

The God who was omnipresent was for nine months, inside a womb.

The God who is eternal had a due date.

The God who would pour out his blood for us was connected to his mother and fed by her blood

The God who is omniscient, knowing everything, learned to walk and talk and was potty trained.

The God who never sleeps had nap time.

The all powerful God was carried inside a woman’s body and cared for.

The God who created the heavens and the earth would be formed from cells inside a woman’s body. The immutable unchanging God would grow and add to his stature.

The God who breathed breath into man would have to be burped.

The God who was omnipresent walked from town to town, rode in a boat, rode on a donkey. He was confined to a place and a time.

The word of God was taught how to speak.

The bread of life got hungry.

The way the truth and the life, was inside a body that was mortal. He could be killed. But he couldn’t,being God, stay dead.

Another word we hear at Christmas time is the word Noel. It is a French word meaning to be born. Another meaning is good news.

We are familiar with the word, among other reasons, because of the song, “the first Noel”

🎶“The first Noel, the angels did say, was to certain poor shepherds in fields where they lay…”🎶

In Luke chapter 2 we hear this very good news from a group of angels.

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven,and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

Luke 2:8-19 NIV

Because he had been born a human, Jesus didn’t stay a baby. He grew into a man. He lived and worked and ate and slept. He worked in the carpentry shop with Joseph. All the while him being God with us.

Jesus came to be with us. He came to rescue us.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

John.3:16-21ESV

Christmas in our modern day has become all about presents. Jesus still fits in this.

Jesus is the present for the present in the present. God did not send his son to condemn the world but to save the world through his death and resurrection.

Noel, born to us is Emanuel, God with us. He came to be with us and he came to save us. He wants to be with us forever so he made a way. In fact He himself is the way.

❤️

🎶He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows…🎶

(From a memory. God is watching, not to catch us doing something wrong but to step in and help and heal, whenever we need him and invite him in).

Hebrews 4b

The song lyrics terrified me when I was a kid.

“He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows if you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake. “

Why did we behave better at Christmas time? As kids? Santa was watching us.

Guess what? God watches us too. All year long. He doesn’t just watch our behavior but he sees inside our hearts and knows our motives.

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

Back in James we were told that the word is a mirror reflecting us so we can see ourselves and I suggested it was so that we could wipe our nose. Here the writer says the word of God is an x-ray. Seeing inside our hearts and exposing our motives. God doesn’t expose us to humiliate us. He shows us our hearts so that we can know ourselves and know where we need healing.

After a meeting at work yesterday a friend asked me how I was. I said that I was fine. He probed just a little deeper and exposed a festering boil that caused a 3 minute rant from me. I hate that. But a faithful friend will help us heal.

Jesus is a faithful friend.

We don’t have to be afraid of exposing our inner self to him. He already knows it, he sees our hearts, but waits for us to stop denying, confess and get on with the healing.

Lance my boils Jesus. I’m tired of living with this spiritual infection. Heal my heart. Make me clean.

The Gospel according to Winter – Winter Warlock

(A memory from a few years back. Viewing the Rankin/Bass Christmas special “Santa Claus is coming to town” would be helpful.)

On the way home I had two strong ideas that seemed linked.

The gospel according to Winter, Winter Warlock.

And these verses, especially the first 1/2 of verse 5.

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.”
2 Peter 1:5-9

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith.

Now how do theses verses and Winter Warlock come together? What if I add some words from James?

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
James 2:14-17

Well here is how they connected in my brain.

Peter tells us to add to our faith. When we believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection and that his gift of love for us pays for our sin, we are saved, it is a done deal. Like when in “Santa Claus is coming to town” animated feature Winter Warlocks frozen heart is melted by Santa’s gift. But Peter said to add to our faith. If our salvation is secure in Jesus what is there to add?

When a baby is born it is a complete baby. But is that baby a finished product? No, it must be fed and nurtured and cleaned and guided and protected. The baby is added to, even though it is a complete human at birth. So it is with us we are born anew or born again. We need to add to our faith, grow our faith, nurture the new life that Jesus has birthed in us.

The verse in James says that we show that our new birth has made us new by our change of heart which is shown in our change in behavior. Winters heart was changed which changed the way he acted, and what he was able to do. He couldn’t curse, he could only bless.

Winter Warlock doesn’t mention Jesus, but he is changed by love. It isn’t a perfect fit but I hope it brings a new dimension to our Christmas season viewing.

Merry Christmas. Thank you Jesus for coming as a child, then finishing the grueling work of redeeming the world. Thank you to for continuing your work in me until I’m finished in your eyes.

Guess what today is? It’s today…

Hebrews 3

Are you a fan? A fan of a team or a movie star or an athlete or anything? I am a Chevrolet fan. I own 2. When I talk about one of the two, my 57, my eyes glass over, my lips curl into a smile, my speech speeds up and even gets a little louder. I am a fan of Rusty and I love to talk about him.

The writer of Hebrews is a fan of Jesus. One of the biggest fans. Rightly so. Who else is worthy of our attention and affection? Who else has saved us and who else intercedes for us? There have been great men, great servant leaders, Moses was one. But as great as Moses was as a leader, Jesus is better.

“Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. 2 He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. 3 Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. 4 For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. 5 “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,”[a] bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. 6 But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.”

We have only one day to do what we have to do. That day is today. All we can do is work in the moment that we are in. If we knew we were dying what would do? Put our affairs in order. What day do we put our affairs in order? Today.

““Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion.””

We get right now. What will we do with it?

Jesus loves us and died to
Prove it. He lives now to intercede for us. Have you accepted his gift yet?

I think I slipped into rabid used car salesman mode. “What’s it going to take to get you into this…?.” Im not selling anything. Jesus is giving us freedom, forgiveness, family and salvation.

““Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion.””

It’s today. Now what?