Through broken bones and burn scars, God works for the good

(This post is from 7 years ago. So now we have been married 42 years, and we now have 11 grandchildren. God is good.)

I’ve been reading through the book of Romans this year. I started in January. I read through a chapter a day and start over when I’m done with chapter 16.

This month I have been posting as I read through and verses jump out at me.

I am up to chapter 8.

Anticipating what I would say about chapter 8 before I read it because it holds my “life verse”. That verse that explains me and my relationship with Jesus better than any other single verse in the bible.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

My childhood was traumatic. I have a steel plate in my jaw and some nasty burn scars on my face. I got these before I turned 12. When I was burned I almost died. Getting the injuries that resulted in the steel plate I was actually clinically dead by the time I reached the hospital.

Again, ” And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

You’d think scars on a face would be a deterrent to finding love. It worked the other way around for me. Mary was actually drawn to me because I was scarred yet I was still laughing. Our story reminds me of the joke about the soldier in a doctors waiting room with a spear stuck through him. He was asked if it hurt. His answer was “only when I laugh”. Mary and I became friends in part because of my scars. We became friends, then boyfriend and girlfriend and then we got?

Broken up. You thought I was going to say married. Well we did, eventually but first for almost a year we were broken up. We even dated other people. I did not do well with that. I wanted out of town. I decided to join the Air Force. I was going to quit school, I had all of my credits already, quit and join and get out of town. I had all the papers signed except one. The medical release form. The recruiter went through rather casually until we got to the question about steel pins or plates. As it turns out the Air Force wouldn’t take folks with steel plates in them. I was stuck in Soap Lake and that and a big blue Dodge Polara are how Mary and I got back together.

The steel plate in my jaw God used to keep me around so that I could participate in the greatest blessing of my life. That blessing was to make up with Mary and get engaged to Mary on the same night then get married, have 4 kids and 6 grandkids and still be married 35 years later.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Even burn scars and a brief dance with Death with a steel plate as a bonus prize. God has used all things in my life, even ugly and painful things for my good.

Tomorrow is our 35th anniversary. Happy anniversary baby! Love you SO much.

Not no, wait…

Rusty took me to church. The message was about faith from Hebrews 11. Faith is the substance of things not seen. For over 30 years I asked God for another chance to own and drive a 57 Chevy pickup. I thought his answer was no. It turned out his answer was wait.

Don’t quit praying. Believe God is a good father who wants to give us good things at the appropriate time.

“Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. “

Words from our Father

I’ve been doing it wrong

I am reading a book by AW Tozer. So far I am only into the introduction. But he has already taught me something that will help me immensely.

You see, I have been reading the Bible wrong. I have been reading the Bible to learn the words written there. But those words that were written were written by a person who was trying, by writing the words, to reveal Himself. That person is not the human author of each book but is the God who inspired the human. God is attempting to reveal himself to us through his word. The words are important but the God who stands behind the words, the God who spoke the words through his apostles and prophets, it’s Him I am trying to learn about, it’s Him I am trying to hear, it’s Him who I am trying to get close to.

This morning I am reading a Psalm, what is God showing me about Himself through these words? What is he saying to me? What can I learn about Him today? What will he teach about myself? About others around me?

It’s not that the words of the Bible don’t matter, but they aren’t the end. They are the map to find the treasure that is God Himself.

“I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.”
Psalm 108:3-5 – NIV

And I add my own words, show me who you are God my Father, and show me how to live.

Universally His

Train musings:

As I’m looking out the window of our train to Venice I’m realizing that the air, the water, the plants and trees don’t know or seem to care what country they are in. They listen to and obey a higher authority than a man who draws a line in the dirt and says “this is mine and that is yours”. They obey a higher authority, the one who made them.

People have some strong opinions about who belongs where. I’m sure that there were meetings in a smoke filled room somewhere. men wearing suits looked at a map and argued where the lines should go.

I don’t think that God sees it that way. The planet that is. One reason might be his vantage point looking down from
Heaven it all looks the same. No colors of states or countries. No lines.

Another reason could be that it is all his. All the land, all the animals, the trees plants fish birds all are his. He made it. He made it and he made us. All of us. No matter what hue our skin is or what language we speak or inside which lines drawn on the map we find our feet or our home. We are his. God is an international God because he only made one planet earth.

Growing up I thought God dressed like captain America Except he wore a robe but his robe was red white and blue because he loved America more than any other country. We were right and they( whomever) were wrong. In any fight, God was on our side.

In the revelation of John the apostle described the vision of the city of God. In that vision he describes the foundation stones of the heavenly city. It is made of 12 different colored stones. I wonder if those 12 colors encompass the colors of all the flags of all the nations?

From Johns description There isn’t going to be an American heaven and an Italian heaven and a French heaven. There is just going to be heaven, the place God dwells. Neither will there be sections for Catholics and a part for Protestants, a space for Jews there will be an all inclusive home for those who believe and receive Gods gift of salvation, being bought back to be a child of God from slavery to sin. No denominations of Protestantism , one God, one heaven, one family. Strange to think about.

One of the creeds I learned as a child said about us believers that we’re one holy catholic, which means universal, church. We are after all part of one body, the bride of Christ, his church.

I sum up

“I sum up”

It’s one of my favorite quotes from “the Princess Bride”.

Jesus summed up the law and the prophets in two small quotes.

In Matthew 22 Jesus was asked this:

“34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”’

My favorite commandments are the ones that are easy not to break like , don’t murder. That WAS easy until Jesus said that if you hate someone, you’ve already murdered them in your heart. That one I’ve broken.

They seem be about behaviors to avoid. But the commandments Jesus lists are things to actively do. Love God. Love people.

So this Christian life, it may not be about not doing the don’ts, but more about doing the do’s.

Jesus says later, recorded in Johns Gospel, that the way the world will be able to tell us apart from the rest of the population is how we love one another.

If you look at how Christians are portrayed in our culture, that isn’t how we are known.

How do I appear? How do I live? How do I love? Do I treat people the way I want to be treated? Do I love self-sacrificially?

Things to ponder and correct if necessary. Paul gave us a summary of how we should live in his letter to the Romans.

“9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[e]
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

How are we doing with this?

  1. Love God
  2. Love people
  3. Repeat

Whose image is this imprinted on my soul?

I am his.

Only Jesus can take a tax question and turn it into a spiritual lesson.

God created me. I sold myself into a life of slavery to sin. Sin is in my nature. I’ve committed them all. I’ve never killed but I have hated and Jesus says it’s the same thing. I have never strayed from Marriage vows but I have had thoughts. Jesus said it’s the same thing. I have lied, I have stolen, I have envied and gossiped, and been gluttonous. Of the commandments I have broken them all, from the first “You shall have no other gods before[a] me.” To the last, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” ( thanks HGTV).

But I digress. Here is what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 22.

“15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax[a] to Caesar or not?”

18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.”

I belong to God because he created me.

“26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.”

God’s stamp is on me. But I sold myself to sin. I cannot belong to sin and God at the same time. God wants me back. Not to punish me, but to love on me, like a father does to a repentant wayward child on their return.

He sent Jesus to die a sacrificial death. It’s a death I deserve but Jesus did it for me. And then he raised him back to life so we can be forever together.

Paul said it very well in his letter to the Romans, “6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 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! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

God longs for us all to come back to him. He has made a way through his son Jesus.

Today will you receive the welcome back? If you already have, will you invite someone else to do the same?

Our king is returning

I had this experience 7 years ago, traveling from Venice to Milan on our way home. Make of it what you will. I think God was speaking to me.

Away from Venice

On the train ride from Venice back to Milan there was a storm brewing to the north. There were huge thunderheads forming. As we travelled along I saw one that looked like a man, (a king?) He was seated on a big chair (throne?) but he was rising up. We must’ve turned because the next time I looked out, the formation I saw looked like a crouching lion about to pounce.

The third time I looked out, the window it looked like a popped corn kernel.

We changed trains in Milan and the second train didn’t have air conditioning. Mary began to wilt. She hadn’t had a meal since breakfast at 7 and it was after 5. The clouds continued to gather and the sky darkened to the north. There were 3 train stops between us and our hotel and it looked like Mary would be a puddle of her former self. The temperature was in the lower 90s with 40% humidity

Then the clouds let loose just a little, like a single sweep of the old oscillating sprinkler and the temperature cooled down about 10 degrees. (God applause!)

We exited the train at our our stop but there was no cover. The rain had stopped already. After the two of us working together to figure out how to dial a + (plus sign), Mary called our hotel which was supposed to have a shuttle service. They informed us that the shuttle wasn’t available but that they were only 2 blocks away and suggested that we walk.

I know that this doesn’t seem connected to the clouds but wait.

As we began trudging toward the hotel dragging our 3 suitcases there was a loud thunderclap and then a second one.

(Lest you think us wimps, the first block was like DKs to division, with no sidewalk and no parking lane, just 2 lanes of Italian dinner hour traffic, 4 lanes if you count the scooters, and the there was also the thunder).

We briefly discussed the possibility and probability of being struck by lightning. It was mutually decided if God brought us all the way to Italy, to a tiny train station parking lot to strike us dead? Our number was up.

Instead of braving the traffic we called back to ask for a taxi. The hotel said the shuttle had just got back and would pick us up in 10 minutes. (I think this when the whole “struck by lightning ” came up but I’m too tired to cut and paste).

We did get picked up. We did get our lovely room. We did eat at the hotel restaurant. We did get greeted by the owner who welcomed us in a booming Italian accented voice. We did eat one of the best meals ever eaten by either of us, possibly by anyone ever.

The storm clouds are still all around but the storm seems to be on pause.

Make of these observations what you will, but here is what I think about them.

God is seated on his throne in heaven, but not forever. Not that he will be unseated but that he will arise and stuff will begin to change very rapidly down here.

The lion is the symbol of Venice. Venice needs Jesus. Italy needs Jesus. Churches are everywhere but they are empty. Empty of His people and empty of his spirit.

If God is rising up from his throne we His church need to get busy gathering the harvest. There will be a time when harvest is over. At that time judgement starts coming in buckets and barrels.

I do not know what my role is in this but I’m pretty sure it isn’t what I usually do.

Are you ready for the change that is coming?

Jesus, the forgiver of friends

When you get called by your formal name….

“Peter James!”

Just typing that sent chills of fear through my body because even though you couldn’t hear it, there was my mothers voice in my ear ringing with an angry tone as I typed.

John 21

I think that is what the apostle Peter heard in our text today. Jesus used his given name, Simon son of John.

“15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 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.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”’

Jesus used his given name, Simon son of John. There is language here that’s worth looking into if you have the time but what I got this morning was Jesus telling Simon Peter that he would never deny Jesus again.

He had denied Jesus. He denied him 3 times. The last denial was vehemently and with cursing.

On this day, through the catch of fish Jesus provided for this ex-fisherman, he gave him his mission, feeding the sheep Jesus would provide for him and he told him that peter would die a horrible death rather than deny Jesus again.

It’s a good thing to hear that Jesus doesn’t hold grudges. Even open denial can be forgiven.

Thank you Jesus for forgiving that Peter and for forgiving this Peter all of our sins.

What happens when we die?

When you’re down and troubled, and you need a helping hand…..

Who do we call when we need help? How about calling out to the God who preexisted existence?
His name? one name he calls himself, I AM.

Jesus tells us a little about life after death and a little about The character of God in Matthew 22.

“23 That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 24 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. 26 The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. 27 Finally, the woman died. 28 Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”

29 Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 31 But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’[b]? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

33 When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.”

I am. The pre-existing God continues to be the God of people who have died centuries ago. Not because he and they continue in our hearts or in our memories but because they continue to exist in God’s presence.

I AM. God exists outside and beyond the creation, his creation. We can continue to exist beyond our existence. Through Jesus who died and lives again, we can be part of that eternal existence.

Jesus said this in his conversation with Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

The same God who said said, ” let there be….” and there was, is the God who wants us to be with him in eternity. He sent Jesus to pay for our sin on the cross, and then defeat death so if we will admit we need him and receive what he has done as our payment then…

….You know wherever I AM, I’ll come running, running, running, to see you again.

(Thanks James Taylor for letting me borrow your lyrics)

On a hill far away…

7 On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
8 he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove his people’s disgrace
from all the earth.
The Lord has spoken.” Isa 25:7,8.
The hill was Golgotha, the place of the skull where Jesus died once for all. He defeated death and sin. Sin and death like unholy debt collectors waiting to haul us each away but Jesus paid it all for everyone of us. that day. On that hill.

Proof

There were 2 missing. One was dead, suicide, and the other was AWOL.

John 20

Where was the second guy? The group had been tight for 3 years now it seemed to be unraveling.

I speculate that the second guy was being proactive. He was moving on to plan B. Plan A had been a miracle working messiah but he was dead. I think Thomas had seen Jesus body some where, either on the cross or on the way to the tomb.

“Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin,[a] was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

The Purpose of This Book
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

I don’t blame Thomas. I have seen dead bodies before. My uncle Charlie and my mom. They don’t look the same. Jesus was dead. But not for long. Thomas said “unless I see, unless I touch”. He got to do that but today we don’t have that option. We do however receive a blessing by believing without seeing.

Jesus suffered and died. He was dead. But he came back to life in a way that a doubter could see and believe.

What do you believe about Jesus?

There is a lot weighing in the balance of your answer. Believe and come home to our Father.

I’ve got good news!

Would you like hear some good news today?

I was reading an ancient book this morning and I in it I found this very good news.

“For Moses writes that the law’s way of making a person right with God requires obedience to all of its commands. But faith’s way of getting right with God says, “Don’t say in your heart, ‘Who will go up to heaven?’ (to bring Christ down to earth). And don’t say, ‘Who will go down to the place of the dead?’ (to bring Christ back to life again).” In fact, it says, “The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.” And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Romans 10:5-13 – NLT.

What? You already knew that? Oh that is fanatic! Hooray! We are family then you and me. We are children of God, adopted, purchased by the blood of Jesus.

Well yes hooray for us, but did you know that as God’s kids we have a job to do, a mission?

Yes! We have a mission! I found out about in the very next paragraph of the ancient book.

“But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” But not everyone welcomes the Good News, for Isaiah the prophet said, “ Lord, who has believed our message?” So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.”
Romans 10:14-17 – NLT

The message of good news needs to be told, to everyone everywhere! And we, you and I have been entrusted to tell the rest of the world the good news, God loves them and sent Jesus to die to pay for their sins, and then God raised Him up on the third day!

It’s great that you know Jesus, it’s amazing about God’s grace, shouldn’t we now get busy, telling the world about this amazing grace of God’s? I agree, yes, let’s do that! Let’s start today, right where we live.

Ready? Woohoo let’s go tell the world, our neighbors and friends about God’s love! Yes! ❤️

Who authorized this modification?

Change. Jesus brought it with him. He could change people physically and change them spiritually. He changed water into wine. He changed blind and lame and deaf and mute people into seeing and walking and hearing people. He changed dead people into living people. When he entered the temple he changed it from a market back into a house of prayer.

I can change my house, we’ve done a lot of changing it. I have the authority to do so because I own it. (I will own it after 456 more payments).

In Matthew 21 the religious leaders of the day questioned Jesus’ authority to make the changes that he did.

“23 Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?”

24 Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 25 John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?”

They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”

27 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”

Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”‘

Does the owner of a thing have to show his deed to the place at the hardware store? I never have. There are times when I should have. Maybe not questioned my authority but my ability.

Jesus has both, authority and ability. He has a master plan for each one of us. He is standing on the front porch of our lives with blueprints and tools and supplies patiently knocking on the door. He is the owner, we are only tenants.

Remodeling is a lengthy and messy business. Last night I just finished painting over the spackle that I used to fill in holes that I made by mistake. It was a project that I started almost a year ago. There is dust and junk and unexpected detours. But God has a plan. He actually knows how best to change us to make us into what he needs to expand his kingdom. That is the goal, kingdom expansion. God wants his flag flown over every home.

Will we let Jesus into our lives so he can change us?

Today is a great day to get started.

Failures are forgiven

He knows us and yet he loves us anyway.

John 18

“Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, 16 but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. 17 The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” 18 Now the servants[e] and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself…..,

Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” 26 One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” 27 Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.”

Jesus said that Peter would deny him 3 times before rooster crowed. That is exactly what happened.

After Jesus rose from the he had a special “chat” with Peter on shore of the Sea of Galilee. You can find the conversation in John 21:15-19. Jesus re-enlisted Peter as a follower and promised him that he would stay faithful to the end.

What does this mean for us? It means God know our failures before we fail them. Yet, and yet, he still loves us. I don’t get it but I receive it.

It’s Sunday morning. Will you Join me in worshipping this great and awesome and forgiving and merciful God? Our church service starts at 10. Find a church and join us in celebration of Gods great love and mercy as displayed in the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Even if church isn’t an option please Receive his forgiveness today. He is waiting with love to forgive us all, even those who would deny him.

useless to useful

Can people really change? Does meeting Jesus and having him become our master really have any affect on us?

(Col 4)

Once upon a time there was a slave who lived in Colosse. He was a young man born into slavery. He stole some money from his master and ran away to the big city of Rome. He was hoping to lose himself in the crowds. In stead he met a man named Paul who introduced him to a God/man/savior named Jesus. This slaves name was Onesimus. Paul had this to say about the character of this guy; “He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here.”

And this “Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, 9 yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love. It is as none other than Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus— 10 that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus,[b] who became my son while I was in chains. 11 Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.

12 I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. 13 I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. 14 But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do would not seem forced but would be voluntary. 15 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— 16 no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.”

The second quote is from the book of Philemon. Philemon was Onesimus’ owner. How strange to own another human yet he did and it was within his rights to do anything to his slave. Paul asked for mercy and forgiveness.

The name Onesimus means useful.

Jesus can change people from useless to useful. He can set the the heart of one enslaved free, even if his body is still owned.

There are many modern slaveries that we get sold into. Jesus can set us free by washing away sin and breaking chains, spiritual chains the keep us locked into patterns and behaviors.

Can people change? Hmmm. Maybe. Can Jesus change people? Definitely Yes.

Useless to useful, Onesimus.

A long or along?

Get a long little doggy?

No, get along little doggy.

Colossians 3 (and a tiny part of 4)

The next bit of bible I’m going to quote is how to get along with people. How to live in community. The very next sentence is a very controversial, counter cultural bit of advice. The way our society recoils at it you would think it said that God hates puppies. God doesn’t hate puppies. He loves puppies. You know what he loves more than puppies? Us. People. Men and women. And he wants us to live in the best possible way. Since he created us he probably (probably?) knows how we can best live. He gives us the manufacturers recommended way to use this thing called life.

Here it is:

” 18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

21 Fathers,[c] do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.
4 Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.”

Jesus loves us and has died to pay for all of our sin and now he lives forever and we can too, with him.

If we fail….when we fail at the above list of interpersonal relationships we have forgiveness in Jesus.

I recently read this in this very same book;
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you[d] alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”

Get along little people.

Pack light

We’re all travelers, my advice? pack light.

(Col 2, Matt 6)

Mary and I were talking last night as we sat out under the stars and watched the planes fly over. Seeing the planes makes us think of our adventures in Italy last year. We want to go back but we would change one thing. We would pack lighter. Images of the two of us taking busses, trains and boats with 3 suit cases pops into our heads. It was comical.

Have you ever been lugging around baggage (or is is bagging around luggage?). Carrying more than is comfortable? It’s so hard. Pulling around a huge box of stuff that seemed so very important at the time. It was meant to be an asset but in actuality becomes a liability.

I went to a family gathering this last weekend. One thing that happened there is that it reminded me of baggage that I carry of things done in my past. Things done Not to me, but by me.

Colossians 2 says this about our sins:

“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you[d] alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”

I know Jesus has forgiven me, but I haven’t done the next step and and confessed and repented to the offended. With every year it seems more difficult to do. Soon. I’m really tired of carrying this luggage or lugging this baggage.

I don’t hold any grudges, not with my family anyway but that’s another set of bags that we can drag around with us.

There is a warning at the bottom of the Lord’s Prayer, one that states Our own forgiveness hinges on whether or not we forgive others.

“9 “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.”

Forgiving others is like having your luggage sent ahead, like checking it at the gate. Something I wish Mary and I could’ve done on our leg of the trip that took us to Venice so we both could enjoy all that we were experiencing.

We are all travelers. How much luggage or baggage are we carrying unnecessarily? My goal is to lose as much as I can so I can be free to enjoy the journey. All of the “Venice’s” of this life are much easier to enjoy without baggage.

Do not be silenced

Has anyone ever told you to shut up?

How about while publicly praying?

“Shut up, God is busy! Leave him alone!”

Basically that’s what happens in Matthew 20.

“29 As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30 Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

31 The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

32 Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

33 “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”

34 Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.”

In Mark 10 one of these guys is named, Bartimaeus. Luke also records the story with one guy. (Mentioning one guy doesn’t say that there wasn’t two guys).

Keep quiet and don’t bother God.

Who would say something like that? Would they be a friend or an enemy?

Mary and I were praying together last night and I got so distracted by a disturbing thought that I stopped praying mid sentence.

It wasn’t “shut up! Stop bothering God!” But it did stop me.

God will never say “shut up”. He will never say “stop bothering me with this”.

He will say, “what do you want me to do for you?”

Would these guys have been healed if they weren’t persistent?

In Luke 18 Jesus gives us a parable.

“18 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”’

We should not let anyone or anything silence our prayers. We will Pray, keep on praying for healing and for salvation for our friends and family and for protection and for provision and for guidance.

I will not be shut up.

Do not be sileJesus, son of David, have mercy on me……

Peekaboo I see you!

John 17

Jesus prays for me and everyone else who will believe in him.

“20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you[e] known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”’

Jesus prayed for me. He knew about me, about us. We were on his mind and in his heart as he was preparing to go to the cross. In less than 24 hours he would be dead. Crucified. A form of killing that kills with pain. Knowing how and why he would die, he prayed for us.

Earlier in this chapter Jesus says something that’s very important and I don’t want to skip over it.

“After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”

Eternal life is gained by knowing God, and knowing Jesus, God in the flesh.

“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

I don’t get it right all of the time. I fail, I stumble but I keep coming back to Jesus and ask for forgiveness and the weird thing is, he does. He forgives me.

He knew about me and prayed for me. He knows about you too. He longs for all those who will believe to jump in and do it.

Two questions

I just had a vision of heaven. It was just a flash. I will try to describe what I saw.

There was a glorious walled city. Gleaming white. There was only one way into the city. There were two lines of people approaching the city. One group was allowed into the city. The others were walked off into darkness.

The line of people that were let in were all wearing the same thing, a beautiful crimson red robe.

I recognized some in this line. They were notorious sinners. Then I looked at the other line line and saw some really good descent people. It confused me deeply.

I looked back to where the lines were forming. I could see that it was one line from deaths door, then it split. At the split I saw Jesus. As each person approached him he would gently ask them two questions, if they shook their heads no, he would sigh and point them towards the darkness. If they nodded their heads yes, he embraced them, kissed both cheeks, took off his robe and put it on their shoulders. Smiling he would say ” well done good and faithful servant, welcome home!” Then guide them towards heavens gate.

What were his questions?

Maybe it was Are good enough to be in heaven? That couldn’t be it, I saw some bad people in the line moving towards heaven. Was it how much did you give? That answer couldn’t be a yes or a no. Was it did you behave? Did you follow the rules? Did you keep the commandments?

I had to know so I went up closer to listen. Here is what he asked them.

“Do you know me?”
“Would you like my help?”

That was the vision.

Could it really be that simple? Is that all there is to getting into heaven?

The apostle Paul said this about that. “9 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. 10 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.”

Evidently it is that simple. It isn’t about the following the rules, but it’s about following a savior.

Do you know Jesus? Do you know this man who died on a cross and came back to life 3 days later? Have you heard that he loves you? Have you heard That he suffered and died so that our sins could be forgiven? Your mistakes and my mistakes? will you accept his help today?

We will all step through death’s door. What is on the other side? Will it be like the vision I had? Which line will you be in? It is your choice. Will you accept Jesus’ help then? How about starting today?