Good news

I’ve got some good news.

I opened my bible this morning intending to continue reading in Psalms but opened to Isaiah 61. Isaiah 61 is the Gospel ministry spelled out in the Old Testament.

“61 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,

because the Lord has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim freedom for the captives

and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]

2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor

and the day of vengeance of our God,

to comfort all who mourn,

3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—

to bestow on them a crown of beauty

instead of ashes,

the oil of joy

instead of mourning,

and a garment of praise

instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness,

a planting of the Lord

for the display of his splendor.

4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins

and restore the places long devastated;

they will renew the ruined cities

that have been devastated for generations.”

This is good news.

I am spiritually poor. My debt has been paid in Jesus.

I am broken-hearted. For my own situation and for the people of my world. There is help and healing and comfort in Jesus.

I am captive to sin. And sometimes held chained in darkness. Jesus can set me free. Jesus brings light into my world. Light shows me my depravity and also shows me the way out.

I’m not sure what the year of the Lords favor is. I think it might be the year of jubilee. That is where all debt is wiped clean. Anything mortgaged or pawned is returned. I would love a day of that. Can you imagine a year of that? No debt unpaid. Everyone reset to zero. Financially it would be incredible, spiritually it is life changing.

I mourn the loss of family. I mourn the loss of innocence and purity. I mourn for those lost and and alone. I mourn for those enslaved by addiction of any kind. I mourn the victims of abuse, the breakup of homes and families. I mourn. Jesus brings comfort to me.

Beauty for ashes. This part is special to me. I am ashes. I was burned as a child, my dad said my nose was a black cinder. He feared it would be gone. When my bandages came off my nose was there. All of it. I feared that I would never find a woman to love me but then one day while I was still a youth I met Mary and she has been the beauty that I traded my ashes for. Jesus provided love through my loss.

I have a family history. It’s not all good. There is abuse and alcoholism and pornography and fights and divorce and pain and base humanness. Jesus has come to restore brokenness that is generational. Walls broken down for decades, for centuries can be restored. Family sins, family patterns of abuse and pain can end now in Jesus.

“delight greatly in the Lord;

my soul rejoices in my God.

For he has clothed me with garments of salvation

and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,

as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,

and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up

and a garden causes seeds to grow,

so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness

and praise spring up before all nations.”

Jesus has come to bring good news. That’s what the word gospel means, good news. We are forgiven and free in the covering Jesus provides us.

God loves us and longs for a relationship with us. The one who built everything we see and know, who created us , has also redeemed us. He has bought us out of slavery. That’s good news.

Rotation angle

How do I get back?

Part of my job is to design operator interfaces. It’s a screen that symbolizes our factory process. I build it from pre drawn pieces and parts. Last week I was drawing a pipe and I needed a tee. There was a tee on the page already but it was pointed I the wrong direction. I clicked on it, went to the properties window and I adjusted the rotation angle. I punched in 180 and suddenly a tee that was useless became useful.

Sometimes in life we need to have our rotation angle adjusted. We are pointing the wrong way. Jesus gives us an example in Luke’s Gospel.

“11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

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

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

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

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

I sometimes stumble and fall. I rely on Gods grace to forgive me one more time. I get turned around or turned away. I need have my rotation angle adjusted.

I read psalm 100 and it reminded me of this sweet reunion when the prodigal son returns.

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.

2 Worship the Lord with gladness;

come before him with joyful songs.

3 Know that the Lord is God.

It is he who made us, and we are his[a];

we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving

and his courts with praise;

give thanks to him and praise his name.

5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;

his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

We have father who loves us and his son who died for us to pay for all our mistakes. Let us go home to the father and celebrate together. We may have to get turned around first (repent), but God is waiting and watching for us to come home.

The sect

Acts 24

In jail for two years and no end in sight.

I kind of wonder what happened to the 40 men who vowed not to eat until they killed Paul? (Chapter 23). Two years without food can make a person hungry. And dead.

The high priest Ananias was there to accuse Paul. This is the same guy who had Jesus crucified. It was personal. The “sect” just wouldn’t go away. This group of people who believe that a man named Jesus was actually God in the flesh. And they believe that his death holds some spiritual significance. That it pays for sin. Only sacrifices pay for sin. Only a perfect sacrifice will actually wash away, forgive, sin. They said Jesus’ death was that, the perfect sacrifice. They also say that he didn’t stay dead. You just can’t keep a good man down and you just can’t keep a God-man dead. That’s what they say. That’s what they believe.

“However, I admit that I worship the God of our ancestors as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, and I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.”

Acts 24:14-15

Ananias couldn’t crush the sect. No one has been able to. WE are still here. This sect that believes in a God-man who died for our sins and now lives forever.

He loves us enough to die for us. He loves you. Join us.

Heading to Rome

Acts 23

Paul has a meeting with the boss.

The boss takes this time to encourage Paul. We don’t have a record of very many encounters with Jesus after he was taken into heaven. This makes this significant.

“11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”’

Not a lot of detail in the message but the journey is laid out. Paul will end up in Rome. Paul will tell his story at every step and at every stop. Soldiers, governors, Sanhedrin, rulers and servants will all hear about Jesus through Paul.

Us too. We get to hear his story because Luke wrote it down.

Thanks Luke. Thanks Paul. Thank you Jesus.

A modern hymn

My favorite hymn lyrics by my favorite (male) musician

Chris Rice – Untitled Hymn (Come To Jesus) Lyrics

Weak and wounded sinner

Lost and left to die

O, raise your head, for love is passing by

Come to Jesus

Come to Jesus

Come to Jesus and live!

Now your burden’s lifted

And carried far away

And precious blood has washed away the stain, so

Sing to Jesus

Sing to Jesus

Sing to Jesus and live!

And like a newborn baby

Don’t be afraid to crawl

And remember when you walk

Sometimes we fall…so

Fall on Jesus

Fall on Jesus

Fall on Jesus and live!

Sometimes the way is lonely

And steep and filled with pain

So if your sky is dark and pours the rain, then

Cry to Jesus

Cry to Jesus

Cry to Jesus and live!

O, and when the love spills over

And music fills the night

And when you can’t contain your joy inside, then

Dance for Jesus

Dance for Jesus

Dance for Jesus and live!

And with your final heartbeat

Kiss the world goodbye

Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory’s side, and

Fly to Jesus

Fly to Jesus

Fly to Jesus and live!

this will be sung at my funeral or I’m coming back.

(Update: I received an email from Chris Rice saying he will be releasing a new album in 2019. )

Telling our story

Acts 22

It’s about to get ugly. We know how this part plays out so some of the tension of the moment is drained away but for Paul, living in the moment, being dragged away from a crowd that wanted to tear him, literally tear him apart, “rid the earth of him!”. To be spared their wrath only to be flogged by the rescuers. Fortunately the flogging didn’t happen and his imprisonment became more civil as his Roman citizenship was revealed.

Everywhere Paul went he told his story. What he was, who he met, and how it changed him. He was on the path towards destruction. The church and his own destruction.

I was on the path to my destruction. All of mankind is on that path until Jesus steps in. Any path that doesn’t get intersected by Jesus’ cross, his death and resurrection is a path to self destruction.

I am getting philosophical. Sorry.

We are all walking a path of life. While at a high school concert last night I looked back. I wrestled in the gym next door. I didn’t know when I was wrestling that I would be back 40 years later to listen to a choir concert. While waiting for the music to start i retraced the journey to that concert. It was convoluted and involved a trip to Italy to meet a girl and her family. A girl who now lives in our basement and who invited me to watch her sing. We can all look back but none of us can see into the future. We have today. We have right now.

Do you know Jesus? Do you know he loves you? He died to save you from your sins. Because you are reading this His cross stands in your path today. Will you accept his offer to forgive your sin and save you?

If yes, welcome to the family. Message me and tell me your story.

Promise keeper

Who is this God we serve?

Psalm 89 starts out with praise of God. It talks about how awesome He is. How he is the creator of everything and then it reminds God of his promises to King David and his line.

“I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever;

with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known

through all generations.

2 I will declare that your love stands firm forever,

that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.

3 You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,

I have sworn to David my servant,

4 ‘I will establish your line forever

and make your throne firm through all generations.’”[c]

“11 The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth;

you founded the world and all that is in it.

12 You created the north and the south;

Tabor and Hermon sing for joy at your name.

13 Your arm is endowed with power;

your hand is strong, your right hand exalted.”

So God is good, he is powerful, he is creative and creator. He has promised special favors. Good good good. Yes.

But here’s the problem. Life is in shambles. Enemies have attacked and are tearing up home. Literally destroying and killing.

Now what? Why go through the process of recounting the goodness of God and his promises before telling God about the destroyer in the backyard banging on your door?

When we are reminding God of his power and his promises are we really reminding him? Does he forget? I think we are the forgetters. But it also sets up why we can expect anything more out of life than scraping up enough food to stay alive, procreating, getting sick and dying like animals. Aren’t we just animals? Not according to God. We wouldn’t know who we are or what we are or what more there was to life without Gods word. Reminding him reminds us that he is Almighty God. He is not some mighty, a little mighty, sort of mighty he is All Mighty. He is creator. He is sustainer. He is the maker and keeper of promises. Why did the psalmist have hope or expectations of David’s lineage? Because God said so. So what? We all make grandiose statements sometimes. God is the only one who can promise and keep his promises, all of his promises.

We can turn to God. We can vent. But while venting I will try to also say why I expect more from my existence. I have seen and heard God working. I have read his proclamation of love for me and for a sick and dying world and so now I have hope for more out of life.

“46 How long, Lord? Will you hide yourself forever?

How long will your wrath burn like fire?

47 Remember how fleeting is my life.

For what futility you have created all humanity!

48 Who can live and not see death,

or who can escape the power of the grave?

49 Lord, where is your former great love,

which in your faithfulness you swore to David?

50 Remember, Lord, how your servant has[g] been mocked,

how I bear in my heart the taunts of all the nations,

51 the taunts with which your enemies, Lord, have mocked,

with which they have mocked every step of your anointed one.

52 Praise be to the Lord forever!

Amen and Amen.”