A very important question

Who is this Jesus guy?

(Originally posted 5/9/2017)

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

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

In Matthew 16 Jesus asked his disciples this very question.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who is Jesus?

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

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

Acts: the first follower to die

I have been reading through the book of Acts. A fuller title is “the Acts of the Apostles”. It tells the story of Jesus’ followers, and the birth and growth and expansion of a new thing, the Church.

The story is written by Luke, the same man who wrote the Gospel of Luke.

These men and women were part of something new and different. They believed in a God who is one God. They believed this one God sent his son Jesus into the world to live and love and serve and touch and heal and die. he died to pay a debt. The debt of sin. Then he rose from the dead. He stayed a brief time then he ascended into heaven. He then sent a third part of God to the believers, God’s Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit empowered the believers to carry on doing the same type of ministry that Jesus had done, live and love and serve and touch and heal and yes sometimes to die.

In the early church the nature of living in community where all things were shared and housing and feeding widows was just part of the ministry, the apostles were getting overwhelmed with the duties and so they chose 7 men to take over feeding the widows. One of these men was Stephen.

“In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith. Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia —who began to argue with Stephen. But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.”
Acts 6:1-10 – NIV

The Jewish leaders arrested Stephen, falsely accused him of blasphemy and stoned him to death.

Two things worth noting happened, well three really.

First this: “All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.”
Acts 6:15 – NIV

The second thing was that Stephen preached a message to the Jewish leaders that connected the dots. He taught from their scriptures how Jesus was the one God had sent. The message we have recorded is a chapter long, if you want to read it, it’s found in Acts 7.

The leaders were infuriated and they stoned Stephen to death.

The third Stephen did was as he was dying, he forgave his assassins.

“When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.”
Acts 7:54-60 – NIV

Stephen wasn’t a teacher or an out front preacher. He was a lowly servant who was faith filled and faithful and who understood the Bible and the message and mission of Jesus, who was filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit to perform miraculous acts, even though he was only a waiter in a soup kitchen.

I identify with Stephen, probably because when Jesus found me 40 years ago, I was in the back room of a little 35 seat cafe where I was a waiter….and a cook and a dishwasher and a cashier and window washer and even occasionally a restroom cleaner (I should’ve been this one more often).

The message for me as I have pondered this is just to continue to be faithful in whatever God puts in front of me, to serve all the people around me with my whole heart, to do even the menial dirty work, to study and ingest the words of God and apply them to my life and to be filled with the Holy Spirit so that when needs arise, he can work through me to supply those needs, even in supernatural ways. I need to be ready to serve him, even up to and including dying for my faith in this Jesus who has saved and cleansed and rescued me.

How about you? What does God say to you through this first follower of Jesus to die for his faith?

I

The horn button principle

John 12

(Originally posted 5/6/2016)

The horn button principle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holes that make us whole

Beware!

(Originally posted 5/4/2017)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus called himself the bread of life.

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

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

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

Beware.

Beware of bread? No.

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

Last chapter of the last book

My bible reading guide suggested that I read Revelation chapter 22 today. It is the last chapter of the last book of the Bible.

It describes the area around the city of God. There is a river that flows from the throne of God. On the banks of the river there are trees, the tree of life that grow 12 crops of fruit, one for every month and it’s leaves are for the healing of the nations.

There are no lamps and no sun because there is no night.

“There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.”
Revelation 22:5 – NIV

Jesus speaks four times in this last chapter of the last book.

7 ‘“Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.”’
Revelation 22:7 – NIV

12 ‘“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”’
Revelation 22:12-13 – NIV

16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”
Revelation 22:16 – NIV

“He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”
Revelation 22:20 – NIV

Two thousand years ago he said “I am coming soon.” That doesn’t seem like soon to a human understanding of the word. We believe he will return. I believe he will return. Maybe soon. We know this, his return is one day closer than it was yesterday.

I ask you to read the book of Revelation in it’s entirety. I don’t want to leave anything out of over emphasize or add anything. Read the book. You will be blessed. The book itself promises a blessing.

“Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.
Revelation 1:3 – NIV

And there is a curse on anyone who adds to or takes away from the book.

“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll.”
Revelation 22:18-19 – NIV

Read the book.

Believe in the one Jesus Christ, trust him as your savior. Get your name written into the lambs book of life.

“I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
Revelation 21:22-27 – NIV

The movie is over…

My reading guide has had me reading in Revelation. Yesterday’s reading was chapter 7 and today’s is from chapter 20. We skipped the scary stuff.

Not really, chapter 7 ends with the “vast crowd, too great to count, from every tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the lamb. They were clothed in white and palm branches in their hands. They were shouting with a great roar, “salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the lamb!”

This doesn’t sound scary. What am I talking about. This is a praise rally before the throne of the lamb! Yes! Amen! But who are these people?

“Then one of the twenty-four elders asked me, “Who are these who are clothed in white? Where did they come from?” And I said to him, “Sir, you are the one who knows.” Then he said to me, “These are the ones who died in the great tribulation. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white.”
Revelation 7:13-14 – NLT

This is scary to me. And there is a comfort too.

‘“That is why they stand in front of God’s throne and serve him day and night in his Temple. And he who sits on the throne will give them shelter. They will never again be hungry or thirsty; they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun. For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”’
Revelation 7:15-17 – NLT

Revelation chapter 20 starts with Satan being bound in the bottomless pit. Then begins the 1000 year reign of Jesus.

Then there is satans final defeat, joining the beast and the false prophet in the lake of fire. “There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

What’s next? Have you ever been in a room where you are watching a film and the film ends but the projector doesn’t get shut off? The film starts flapping on the drive real and the screen is suddenly filled with blazing white light, whatever state of reverie you were in is shocked awake by the sudden switch from darkness to light.

That’s how I see verses 11-15 of chapter 20. All of creation snapped awake by the end of the film and our existence flooded with the light of the almighty creator!

“And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death.
Revelation 20:11-14 – NLT

Ok folks, that is scary. The billions of people, according to one estimate 108 billion people standing in line in front of the throne of God to be judged according to what we have done. Some things cross my mind. First, that’s a looooong line. Disneyland had long lines. They are very clever to route the lines do you cannot see the whole length when enter at the back. But Disney has nothing on this. All of humanity waiting in line. One of the most frustrating things about lines is that we have better things to do. This will no longer be true. We have absolutely nothing else to do but wait for our judgement.

Judgement solely based on our behavior. Scary. God has seen it all. Every little and big thing I have done. This is also scary. I didn’t see what you did last summer, but God did. Those things that were supposed to stay in Vegas? Yeah, all that’s here to. I didn’t see what you did last summer, I know I said that already, but God did, and he saw what I did in the summers of 74 and 75, and 76 and well all my summers, and all my springs and falls and winters.

Some of the stuff he cares about we brush off as trivial. Lying. Telling the truth is important to God. He expects us to tell the truth. All the time. Gossip. God hates gossip and slander. To quote a cartoon bunny, “if can’t say something nice, then don’t say nothing at all…”

Wow! God is really going to call us on all of that? Yes. Yes he will. So our actions and words are being monitored and recorded but that’s okay. We have been exemplary. Our behavior and words are beyond reproach. Remember that one time there was that super hot girl/guy and for just a moment you were mentally on a Caribbean beach going places and doing very things, naughty things? Jesus said those little mental dalliances are the same as the real thing. You have, we have already done the deed in our hearts. That time you got ticked off at the car in front of you and imagine yourself in a weaponized wagon of mass destruction and you mentally blew them off the road? Or was that just me doing that? Anyway, if we have thought about killing someone , God knows it and he counts it as if we did the deed.

My point is, We are all guilty and hopeless as we stand before Gods judgement throne.

But wait. There’s more!

In verse 15, “And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.
Revelation 20:15 – NLT

An important thing to notice here; Anyone who was found written into the lambs book of life, was not thrown into the lake of fire.

Our only hope is the Lamb. The lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Getting our names in his book of life.

We can see him in chapter 5 of Revelation “Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which represent the sevenfold Spirit of God that is sent out into every part of the earth. He stepped forward and took the scroll from the right hand of the one sitting on the throne. And when he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song with these words: “You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And you have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth.”
Revelation 5:6-10 – NLT

Jesus is the lamb. Jesus is our hope, our only hope. He has washed away all of our sins.

My name is in the book. Is yours?

“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 10:9-13 – NLT

A prayer that confesses our need for forgiveness, that acknowledges Jesus death as the payment for that sin, and a belief in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and our name appears written in blood, Jesus blood, into the lambs book of life.

It’s a sign…

It’s a sign.

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

Matthew 16

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Originally posted 4/28/2017)

A bug and a Brown

(Originally posted 4/25/2017)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is going on?

What is going on?

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

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

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

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

This is what he saw:

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

Revelation 4:2-5 – NLT

In front of the throne were 4 four living beings. They were busy, busy worshiping the King of the universe.

“Each of these living beings had six wings, and their wings were covered all over with eyes, inside and out. Day after day and night after night they keep on saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty— the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come.”’

Revelation 4:8 – NLT

I didn’t mention it yet but around the throne the are 24 elders, dressed in white with gold crowns on their heads. They too are busy worshiping the King of the universe.

“Whenever the living beings give glory and honor and thanks to the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever), the twenty-four elders fall down and worship the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever). And they lay their crowns before the throne and say, “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased.”’

Revelation 4:9-11 – NLT

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

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

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

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

Remember 2019?

Remember 2019?

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

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

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

Why mention it again? Well, because taking that course and studying those verses hasn’t meant that I am now anxiety free. In the last 2 months Life’s anxiety dial has gotten cranked to 11. The course doesn’t teach us how to avoid anxiety, it teaches us how to deal with it when it comes. The way to deal with anxiety is given in the verses in Philippians.

“Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

Philippians 4:5-8 – NLT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life and death of a seed

John 11

(Originally posted 4/22/2016, edited 4/22/2020)

 

Bloom where you are planted, unless you are dead.

I was going through a raised bed that I built last year to remove anything that wasn’t a strawberry plant. Last year the bed held flowers and vegetables. As I inspected it I found a columbine growing. I thought it was a volunteer and proceeded to digit up to put it somewhere else but when I did I found the decaying remains of the peat pot I had used last year to start some columbines indoors. They had been frustrating. They took forever to germinate. Everything else had already sprouted but the columbine were just laying there. Now this one sprouted 13 months later. I am happy that it is now growing but wow, why the wait?

Seeds are strange. Once you plant a seed it dies to being a seed so the plant that is waiting inside of it can grow.

Paul talked about this when he wrote to the Corinthians.

“But someone may ask, “How will the dead be raised? What kind of bodies will they have?” What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed. Similarly there are different kinds of flesh—one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.”
1 Corinthians 15:35-39 – NLT

We will talk more about this later. First let’s look at the death of Jesus’ friend Lazarus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

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

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

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

Most people once dead stay dead.

Or do we?

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

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

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

The questions remain.

Who is this Jesus?

Do we believe him?

Paul went on to say this to the Corinthians: “It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies. The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.” But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit. What comes first is the natural body, then the spiritual body comes later. Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. Earthly people are like the earthly man, and heavenly people are like the heavenly man. Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man. What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever. But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? ” For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”
1 Corinthians 15:42-58 – NLT

Who is this Jesus?

Do we believe in him?

I do.

Read, reflect,respond, repeat

Bible reading

My reading guide had me read Revelation 1. There is something here that is said 3 times in one chapter. Maybe it’s important.

“This letter is from John to the seven churches in the province of Asia. Grace and peace to you from the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come; from the sevenfold Spirit before his throne; and from Jesus Christ. He is the faithful witness to these things, the first to rise from the dead, and the ruler of all the kings of the world. All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us.

Revelation 1:4-5 – NLT

Jesus repeats this twice more.

‘“I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.”’

Revelation 1:8 – NLT

“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.

Revelation 1:17-18 – NLT

From my days repeating the creeds during church worship I remember some parts of them.

He was. Jesus is eternally begotten of the father. He always was.

He was crucified, died and was buried and he rose Again from the grave. He is.

He will return. He is still to come.

Remember the prayer Jesus taught us? Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Jesus is the returning King.

May he find us, may he find me, busy, working and serving for his kingdom.

He remembers it all.

John 11

(Originally posted 4/20/2016)

Wait, what?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lord willing I’ll talk more about that tomorrow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are significant to him.

Sheepishly his

John 10

(Originally posted 4/18/2016)

We are known, we will live and we are safe.

“Then came the Festival of Dedication[b] at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all[c]; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”

33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”

34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’[d]? 35 If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside— 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? 37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. 38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” 39 Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.

40 Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There he stayed, 41 and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.” 42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.”

Are you one of His sheep?

I am. Of course that is a metaphor. I’m not really a sheep. I am a follower of Jesus and I have accepted his offer.

I got to a point where I realized that I had done things that had stained me. No matter what I did I could not wash away the stains. Jesus offered to wash away my stains but he did it with his blood. By dying the death I deserved to die he paid for and in a sense, washed away all of my stains.

In that transaction I became his sheep. One of many. Will join me and become one of his flock? There is no better shepherd than Jesus. Since he died and rose again death no longer has a hold on him or on me. My body will die but my spirit will live forever. I can never be “snatched away” from Jesus.

Bahhh. He now leads me to work. I must follow.

Seven plus a few = 4000 and plenty

(Originally posted 4/17/2017)

I’ve done the math. God is good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Walk in the cemetery (and four weird things about that)

Walks in the cemetery

Isaiah 26

Covid-19 has me self quarantined in my home practicing social distancing and working from home. My home is house built in 1940 in the downtown of a sleepy little rural community. I have an office set up in my basement. It is cool and damp and I feel a little weird working from 6 feet underground.

I take a walk on my work breaks. Within a 2 minute walk I can reach 3 church buildings. Within a 5 minute walk I can reach a cemetery. During my work breaks walks I have been walking through the cemetery. I read once that a cemetery is a good place for a writer to gather names for fictional characters. (It’s true, i found the name James Bond on a head stone. Do you suppose Ian Fleming walked through this cemetery?) So as I walk I’ve been reading the names and also noting the dates of life. The oldest death dates I’ve seen so far are from 1918 and I wonder if they were victims of the Spanish flu. That would be ironic for me to visit a grave of a victim of a flu pandemic because I am home, isolating myself, trying to avoid a flu pandemic.

Another irony that I saw in this cemetery is a man with the last name Wood that has a giant cedar tree growing out of his gravesite. Really has nothing to do with the topic, just a fun fact.

I am avoiding sickness and death by visiting the repository of a town’s dead. Weird thing one. Avoiding sickness and death by visiting a cemetery which is a collection of death sites.

We’ve been watching a TV series where the main character doesn’t believe in an afterlife. We meet him because he is avenging the murder of his wife and daughter. His job before their murders was as a spiritist or a psychic, faking connections and deceiving people into thinking they were conversing with their dead loved ones. His supporting character is a believer in the afterlife. She wears a cross. The main character frequently states, “their is no such thing as a psychic”. In his view their can’t be because there is no afterlife. You can’t talk to the dead, they are dead.

Then there’s the cemetery. His wife and daughters remains rest, slowly decaying in the ground. The last couple of episodes of the series he loses a friend and co-worker to a gun shot wound. She is laid to rest in a cemetery. Weird thing two. People who don’t believe in an afterlife.

Back in reality, in our real world, If we’re lucky we will end up in a grave with a grave stone. I read a story about New York City’s Covid 19 victims. They are dying so fast that they can’t do individual graves. The unclaimed bodies have been unceremoniously dumped in a trench in a “potter’s field”. No gravestones, no funerals, no mourners. Weird thing 3. Death.

Speaking of mourning, but the other kind, This morning my suggested bible reading guide took me to Isaiah chapter 26. Isaiah the prophet believed in a God who offered an afterlife.

“Lord, they came to you in their distress; when you disciplined them, they could barely whisper a prayer. As a pregnant woman about to give birth writhes and cries out in her pain, so were we in your presence, Lord. We were with child, we writhed in labor, but we gave birth to wind. We have not brought salvation to the earth, and the people of the world have not come to life. But your dead will live, Lord; their bodies will rise— let those who dwell in the dust wake up and shout for joy— your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead.”

Isaiah 26:16-19 – NIV

Believers in the God of the Bible believe that death is not the end. We believe that God is the God who gives life to the dead.

During Jesus’ time on earth he was questioned by the Sadducees. They did not believe in life after death and they brought Jesus a question that they thought proved their point.

“That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. “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. 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. The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. Finally, the woman died. Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?” 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’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.

Matthew 22:23-33 – NIV

In Jesus’ answer notice the tense of the verb. “I am”, am being the present tense of to be. In contrast God did not say “I was” as in “I was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob ” but he said, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”. Abraham Isaac and Jacob died and yet continue to exist.

I serve a God who gives away eternal life. Of all the gifts a person could get, eternal life is like way up there, top ten for sure. I joke, it is the ultimate gift. He also gives another gift which is a tie for ultimate gift-ness, and it has to be given first. That gift may not seem as big of a deal but it’s required that we get it before we can get the gift of eternal life and that gift is? Complete and total forgiveness. Past and present and future sins forgiven upon confession. What an awesome gift. For those of us who have the attitude of “I ain’t so bad…never killed anyone…” We will discuss this more in the future but everyone is guilty of killing at least one person. That one person? Jesus. I killed Jesus. You killed Jesus. How? It was our sin that brought Jesus to the cross. For my sins Jesus died. Still feel like you ain’t so bad? It’s probably who we compare ourselves to that gives us the smugness and feeling of superiority. “I ain’t as bad as my neighbors.” “I ain’t as bad as Fill in the blank”. Let’s just switch the focus off of known sinners and all compare ourselves to the true standard. The standard is Jesus. He is the spotless lamb of God. Sinless and perfect in every way! Next to him my merit badges seem to disappear. Weird thing 4. God loves me enough to allow his son to die for me.

I need forgiveness. I want every lasting life.

So here I am, sheltering in place in my basement. Already 6 feet under. (In my basement). And yet I am alive. Visiting a cemetery to avoid death, knowing some people believe death is the end even if God said it isn’t, just knowing death will eventually grab me, but having confidence that my sin is forgiven because I killed a guy, who in turn forgave me and gifted me with eternity with him.

Make sense of this if you can. Be encouraged if you will. Be forgiven and gifted with eternity if you want.

More of the same – good news

(Originally posted 4/16/2017)

I say “he is risen” and you say?

He is risen indeed….

It’s a call and response that we used to do in the Lutheran church. It was especially popular on Easter Sunday.

Here is why we can say that, found in First Corinthians:

“3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

The Resurrection of the Dead
12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.”

He is risen.

He is risen indeed!

My good shepherd

John 10

(Originally posted 4/15/2016)

Jesus is my shepherd.

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is good news

My good shepherd

John 10

(Originally posted 4/15/2016)

Jesus is my shepherd.

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is good news

Just ask

(Originally posted 4/14/2017)

This is me when I was 3(?) and the adorable ceramic cookie jar is Charlie the chipmunk. Charlie used to Sit on my grandma Loeffelbein’s kitchen counter. My parents would not let me ask for cookies. It was rude to ask. They did not say that I couldn’t just stand in the kitchen and stare at Charlie until my grandmother offered me a cookie. I’m sure I drove my grandma nuts with my wistful silence.

We have not, because we ask not.

This is what James said about prayer.

We don’t have from God because we do not ask of God.

This is Easter weekend.

Ask.

Ask God for forgiveness. Ask for God for a new relationship with him. Ask God that relationships be restored in our families, in our marriages, in our friendships. Ask God for our needs. Ask. Talk to our Father.

When Jesus taught his disciples to pray he said to start with “our Father in heaven”.

Ask.

(Sorry for driving you crazy grandma, and thanks for the cookies!)