“Everybody wants to be the boss…”

To borrow a Disney lyric that I heard recently, “Everybody wants to be a cat

Because a cat’s the only cat who knows where it’s at”. Now replace the word “cat” with boss. Every body wants to be a boss…Our nature creates in us a desire to be the one to tell others what to do, and to not want to be the one being told what to do.

Christianity is the upside down of that.

The disciples were walking along the road with Jesus, I see this in my head as Jesus walking ahead of them and the twelve in a clump, jostling each other arguing about who is the boss of whom.

Matthew 18 tells it like this.

“18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”

If we follow the example of our leader Jesus, the way up is the way down. Jesus humbled himself. He started as the Godhead in heaven, but he knew we needed him so he humbled himself and took on the form of a servant. Going back to the story in Matthew, Jesus will continue in this servant role until it kills him. He will follow the path down to the point of becoming not just a servant of all, but a sacrifice for all, a human sacrifice. His death will be the payment for my sins, for the sins of all of us. He has restored my relationship with God by being the servant to die and pay the price. It was a role only he could fill because he had no sin. He rose up from death to live forever, and offer us a way into God’s kingdom.

Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? Jesus is. The servant-sacrifice. The way up in this kingdom is the way down. The greatest of all is the servant of all.

Who is Jesus?

Just a reminder about this Jesus guy we believe in and follow.

“12 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man,[d] dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”

“At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. 3 And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne.”

“5 Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” 3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. 4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”

6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits[a] of God sent out into all the earth. 7 He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. 9 And they sang a new song, saying:

“You are worthy to take the scroll

and to open its seals,

because you were slain,

and with your blood you purchased for God

persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.”

Jesus is the alpha and omega, first and last, he is the same yesterday, today and forever, he is the good shepherd, he is the way, the truth and the life. He is our king. Forever our king. He is our savior and redeemer. He is full of grace towards us.

I Just needed to remind myself.

Who is this Jesus?

See above.

Let’s build something!

Proverbs 9:10

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. “

Growing up as a Loeffelbein, there was always a project going on in the garage. Something was being built or repaired or modified or enhanced almost all of the time. In my early childhood my dad was racing in the jalopy class. I don’t remember what the specifications were but they were mostly homebuilt open wheelers. At the same time he was also building street rods, one I remember the most, a 39 Ford coupe.

The strongest memories from those days were approaching the garage, the door open, and my dad, my brother and my dads friends bent over, and crawled under, and poking into and hanging out of the car projects. I remember the smells of grease and oil and I remember the sparks. Showers of sparks. Sometimes from welding and sometimes from grinding. Lots of sparks. Sprays and geysers of sparks. I may actually be superimposing years of memories on top of each other but I don’t think it will change the validity of my point.

I feared those sparks. Somehow my older brother either wasn’t afraid or worked past it or around it. Because my brother faced the fear, No it wasn’t that. My brother knew and loved my father and felt safe in his presence even if there were sparks and loud noises.

God has invited us all into his garage, his work shop. There are some scary and surprising things going on inside. He is busy creating, restoring and repairing humanity.

Some of us never look into the garage. We have no knowledge of or interest in Gods creative process. Some of are drawn in but see the sparks and are frightened away. But some of us move past to meet the maker of the sparks and get to know the father God who creates and repairs and redeems.

I am reminded of what the ghost of Christmas present says in A Christmas Carol, “come in and know me better man!”

He invites us in, but not just to watch. He wants us to participate and he wants to work on us too.

The work God wants to do in our lives is almost always in our hearts. Sometimes it’s actually heart transplant surgery, where he takes out a heart of stone and gives us a heart of flesh. Sometimes it’s the deconstruction of walls we’ve built around us. Sometimes it’s tearing down the high platforms of pride In ourselves or the lofty expectations we have for others. Sometimes it’s to remove cancers of hate. Sometimes it’s to repair wounds inflicted by others. There is electrical work to do. Sometimes our brains get wired wrong. God untangles the mixed messages. When any switch a person flips on us makes us angry or when we flip the love and respect switch but it keeps opening the lust faucet.

To know God is to love God. If we don’t love him yet, We don’t we know him yet. He is our Father. He has the role of provider and disciplinarian but he also has the role of the great one who loves, who holds and helps, who protects and prompts, who leads and guides. He created us but not like our parents, blindly, just hoping and guessing what we will be and what will will do. He created us, not as a toy but as a tool. We were created with and for a purpose. We have an enemy who wants to distract and destroy us and diminish or destroy our purpose.

We need to fear and honor this great and awesome God who said to nothing, “let there be…. “ and everything we know came into existence. To fear and honor him is the beginning of wisdom, but to know him is find out about ourselves, first that we fit into a plan and next, how we fit into his plan. To know him is to be loved and cared for by him, and to be guided by and disciplined and trained by him. We have value because he created us on purpose and for a purpose.

In All of this is God is waiting for us but we have to say the words. Like in a wedding, the honeymoon night awaits. The wedding rehearsal does not a marriage make. It is very similar to the wedding but it is not the same thing. A wedding, saying the vows and exchanging the rings, that makes a wedding.

God longs and waits for us but we are stopped from joining him by a wall of sin, (Wall or crevasse) a dividing point. Jesus died to remove the barrier and fill in the gap so there is no more division.

In his letter to the believers in Collisi Paul said this: “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 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. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”

Colossians 2:13-15

God is inviting us into the garage, partly for work we need done on us, and partly so we can participate in what he is doing in and for others. Will you brave the sparks with me and join in God’s plan to restore broken lives, mine and yours?

A taxing situation

God’s love is amazing

How small does a matter have to be to fall off Gods radar screen of our life?

In money value? Less than 19 cents. According to my exhaustive research , (2 websites from a google search) the drachma was worth about 19 cents. When the tax collector came around, Jesus knew, he cared and he provided.

“24 After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”

25 “Yes, he does,” he replied.

When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?”

26 “From others,” Peter answered.

“Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. 27 “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”

It seems like a non story. Why is this little story even in the Bible? The Gospel writer Matthew was by trade, a tax collector. That may be why this story stuck out in his memory. But the Holy Spirit has something to teach me from this.

It has some odd things in it too, Jesus didn’t reach in his purse or pocket to get the money, he didn’t pull a 4 drachma Coin from behind Peters ear, he had Peter fish for it. Not catch a fish and sell it, but catch a fish and pull the coin out of the fishes mouth(?). What an odd way to provide. Jesus showed so much of his power and knowledge and ability in this coin retrieval system. The ocean is his piggy bank.

As Gods son, Jesus was exempt from the tax but he paid it anyway. Jesus was exempt from the punishment for sin, yet he paid it anyway. He paid the price for my sin, he paid the price for our sin.

My take aways from this story:

God hears our life story live, he cares about what is happening, he has knowledge of and possesses all the earth, it is all at his disposal, he will pay my way, he has paid my way into the temple and beyond, into Gods presence in heaven by dying for me on a cross.

Now he lives forever, not to brag about his own goodness and selflessness, but to continuously intercede for me to God as I am stumbling through life. Intercede for me, for us, the ones who put him on the cross.

God’s love is amazing.

One heart, a stone and 2 dogs

I just found this on the road while i was taking my walk. Sometimes it feels like I have one just like it rattling around in my chest. A heart of stone.

I have been reading the second half of John 14 but I keep stumbling over part of it.

“15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[c] in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”

If you love me you will obey my teachings.

Obedience, do what he says AND don’t do what he says not to do.

I was thinking about this and how I fail and being hyper self critical when my dogs crawled up on the couch with me. We have 2 dogs one smart one and one cute one- (I hope I can bring this all together, stone heart, obedience from love, dogs), and I realized something. My dogs love me and I love them but they are not always obedient. They don’t do what I tell them every time. Sometimes I will even change my command so that what they are doing matches what I’m saying. (The analogy sags a bit here). My heart feels stiff because my will is not always His will. Sometimes my will is counter his will. He still loves me. Jesus died for me and forgave before I committed any sins because he knew I would need to be bathed in forgiveness from birth.

I constantly need to have my heart softened towards God and towards the people around me. I have received grace, I need to dispense grace.

Change my heart o’ God make it ever true, may I be like You.

Grateful all over again.

I haven’t really studied other religions. I grew up in a Christian home, was taught about Jesus in our home and at church and I believed it. As an adult, I accepted Jesus as my savior.

in the Bible, Jesus said he loves me. He said that when he died on the cross that that paid for all of my sins. I believed him then and I believe him now. He said that my sins, all those times when I didn’t love God with all of my heart, my soul, my mind and my strength and the times when I didn’t love my neighbor as I love myself, when I hated, when I coveted and envied, when I lied, when I lusted and committed adultery in my heart, when I stole, and all the other things that I did wrong, those separated me from God our father. But he added that his sacrifice was enough to pay for all my sins.

When I heard all of that, and understood and believed it I stopped looking for any other answer. I had found out about a God who loves me so much that he came looking for me and has done everything I need to be forgiven and loved and welcomed into a family, into his family.

I read a verse in the gospel of John this morning that brought this all back to me.

“From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. 67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

John 6:66-69

I am convinced that there is no better offer out there. In Jesus I have a God who loves me, who sought me and bought me. To whom shall I go?

Jesus I too believe that you are the Holy One of God and that you have the words of eternal life.

His banner over me, Jehovah Nissi

Jehovah Nissi. The lord our banner. It’s one of the names of God that I struggle to connect with… Or did until today. I saw a picture in my mind in a flash. It was like a second. I’m going to try to describe to what I saw In my mind. I was a young soldier reporting to battle. It was ancient times. I couldn’t see the battle field until I was almost on it. As I cleared the last hill a huge valley spread out in front of me. As far as I could see there were soldiers and horses and weapons, every menacing tool imaginable was there. The valley was filled with encampments, each encampment had at its center a banner. Every banner was the name of the tribe… Or so I thought, but as I got closer the banners each listed one of my sins. One banner I read said “Peter Loeffelbein should die because he on May 5th 1970 he stole Mike Hancocks green army truck.” That was the only one I feel comfortable sharing here but all my sins were there. My enemies wanted to destroy me for them. Myriad of enemies all ready to do battle against me because my sins. I was overwhelmed. But then I saw it. In the center of all this hatred of me I saw another banner. It said ” I love peter Loeffelbein! my son Jesus will die in his place”. There was Gods camp. His banner declared his love for me. He would send out his son, his only son to die in my place. All of my sins which in the enemies hands had become weapons would strike him and not me. I ran to that banner and fell down and wept at the feet of my king and my Champion. Jesus.

Jehovah Nissi, his banner over me is love. He has a banner for each one of us. Run to his banner.