EmphAsis

EmPHAsis on the wrong syllABle.

I think I may be guilty of doing that.

I have been posting bible quotes and short studies and most if not all of them mention Jesus dying to pay for, or to forgive our sins. That is correct. He did die, he did rise again from the dead to be alive forever, our sin is forgiven but that isn’t the whole picture. I have said it but I have never emphasized the fact that the reason for Jesus’ death isn’t primarily for our forgiveness, the primary reason is so we can be restored to our relationship with our Heavenly Father. We have to be forgiven to be in Gods presence but God doesn’t want us washed clean just so we can sparkle people with our brilliant white holy robes. He wants us to hang out with him.

As a dad I know how important it is for my kids to want to spend time with me. God is our Heavenly Father. God wants me to want hang out with him. He wants us to hang out with each other and with him.

I have done one other thing in these posts that I think I should correct. I have avoided using the word “you”. I felt like I was pointing ☝️ a preachers finger and so avoided it. We are all in the same boat. All sinners, every one of us. What I say of my condition is true of you and what I see in your condition is also true of me. I may begin to use you, I mean use “you”.

Speaking of boats, we have a boat, a boat story in Matthew 14.

“22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

34 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.”

Why did the savior walk across the lake?

To get to the other side!

We don’t have all the answers. We know what and who, we know where and when but we don’t know how or why. Jesus can walk on water. I don’t think he was showing off. He does show his divinity or at the very least his supernatural power over the elements in this act.

Then there’s Peter.

“If it’s you then call me over,” (????) He did it but then sank. Peter walked on water. Then he doubted and sank.

This Peter, me, I would’ve stayed in the boat. I have stayed in the “boat”, most of the time but sometimes Jesus will call us out of the “boat”, call me out of the “boat”, call you out of the “boat”. (The “boat” meaning the secure safe place in our life.) He will also catch us when we sink. Why? Because he loves us and wants to have a relationship with us.

Imagine

What would it be like to grow up without parents? I know that some children do. It would be so sad and lonely. So many things I learned from my parents just through example, just by being around them, honesty, working hard, love, how to care for people, how to respect the property of others, how to forgive, how to resolve conflict, how to worship God, how to know that there is a God, and on and on. I know about God because my parents told me. Not everyone gets that foundation.

( thank you mom and dad)

Matthew 14 has the story of the feeding of 5000 men, not counting women and children, with 5 loaves and 2 fish.

“13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.”

The thing that stuck out to me as I read it this time is that Jesus said, “you give them something to eat.”

The disciples would be shown that what they had was enough because God can multiply, he can make it enough.

Personally this story says that I don’t have to have it all figured out. Mary and I are moving out past our comfort zone and I don’t know what the month of May will hold for us. What will our address be? I don’t know. Can I trust that the God who has supplied all of my needs so far will continue to be my Father God and supply me? Probably. The God who feeds 5000+ with 5 loaves and 2 fish is still working miracles today.

There are many people who don’t know about this miracle working God. I think Jesus is saying to those of us who know Him “you give them something to eat, you give them something to believe in in, you tell them about me”.

If that scares you like it scares me, the overwhelming need for God on this planet, we should remember the miracle, he used what they had and made it fit the situation. I guess we should look at the need and then ask the God of miracles to provide so we can tell our story.

Just like there are orphans growing up without parents, there are spiritual orphans living life without knowing about our Loving, miracle working God. The biggest

miracle he has performed is forgiving all of our sin.

Forgiveness is available today to all who will ask.

You don’t have to be good…

I was listening to the radio on the way to Spokane today and was reminded of a very important truth.

You do not have to be good to get into heaven.

Thats a relief.

You don’t have to be good, you have to be perfect.

Wait, what? Perfect? It was hard enough to be good but I have be perfect?

Yes. Perfect.

I cannot be perfect. It’s impossible for me to be perfect. That is very true. But to get into heaven I have to be perfect? What am I going to do?

Run to Jesus. Jesus’ perfection is transferable. The blood of Jesus covers over all our “non-goodness” and all God sees is the perfection of Jesus. I am perfect, but only when covered in the blood of my perfect savior.

Blind to the giving of sight

(This post is from April 7 2016)

John 9

Blind to the giving of sight.

“13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. 15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”

16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”

But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided.

17 Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”

The man replied, “He is a prophet.”

18 They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. 19 “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?”

20 “We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. 21 But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23 That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”

25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

26 Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”

27 He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?”

28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”

30 The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”

34 To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.”

It was one of the most miraculous things that Jesus did. He healed a man born blind. The Pharisees couldn’t see past the broken sabbath rule.

Jesus has come to heal.

They were annoyed with Jesus because he did heal. I am annoyed because he hasn’t healed yet, not completely. My grandson Jonah is getting better but it’s slow. I know 2 mothers who are bereft and bewildered because he didn’t heal their children’s cancer. Their babies had babies so now there are children without parents and parents without children.

God is not a genie that we control him. He is a loving father who knows best. We do not know but we ask believing that he can heal and that he will act.

I’m rambling. I went to my uncles funeral on Saturday and met my new granddaughter on Tuesday. Meanwhile 2 friends lost their kids to cancer. Life and death continue.

There is an eternity that sits just at the edge of our last breath. When we stop breathing we cross the border.

Jesus has come to forgive our sins and give us eternal life. Our bodies will die. We don’t know when or where or how. But we know it’s coming.

Have you decided yet? Who is this Jesus?

What is in a name?

Jesus called himself many things. He said he was the gate, he was the good shepherd, the way the truth and the life, the vine, the son of man, the I am, among others.

Jesus said more than once that he came to save sinners. He dined with a tax collector named Zacheus and said this, ‘”For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

I spent the first 20 years of my life “knowing” I wasn’t good enough for God. I went through bouts of struggling to be good and then failing and falling and rolling around in my failure.

Then one day that all changed. Because of where and when it happened it had to be the Holy Spirit that broke through. I was in the back room of my parents restaurant, it was Sunday so we were closed. I was getting breakfast for my very pregnant new bride, ( honeymoon baby) and the verses from Ephesians 2 came to life in my head and my heart.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

I couldn’t earn Gods love and mercy. I already had it through what Jesus had done dying for me on the cross. Salvation, Gods love, it is a gift and I cannot deserve it, we cannot deserve it. We just need to receive it.

As I began to study the Bible with fresh eyes I saw many other verses that confirmed what I saw in Ephesians.

One of my favorites is in Romans 5.

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

9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

While we were still sinners Jesus died for us. He wasn’t waiting until we were good enough. He meets us where we are, in our sin and fallenness.

The blessings we can receive from God don’t stop with salvation. If God did not hold back his only son, what else will he give us so that we can succeed in telling the world about Him?

These verses from Romans 8 also confirm our salvation in Jesus and Gods gracious and generous heart towards us to share our story with the world.

“28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

More Than Conquerors

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;

we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[j]

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Jesus called himself many different things, they all boil down to one thing, he is the one sent by God to save us, save you and me. He said it in many different ways so that in case we didn’t catch it in one story we might get it in the next. Jesus came to save sinners. We are all sinners. We can be nice people and still be sinners. It’s in our deep down human nature. Only Jesus can fix it.

Today would be a great day to receive Jesus’ gift of forgiveness and eternal life.

How about it?

You stink (and so do I)

You stink.

I was thinking about a person I know that did some really bad stuff. I mean besides me. This person hurt people, changed people, damaged them forever and was never caught. He died free. He will burn in hell. Unless….

I will also burn in hell, unfortunately all of us are destined to burn in hell…….why? We are all sinners. It’s like we are all deposits in a pit toilet and each of us wants to say “I’m not as stinky as that pile of poo over there” pointing with our little poo finger.

We are all poops in the same pile. All of guilty of some sin and so all sinners. We are all destined for the same place unless…..

Unless what?! Get me out of the septic system and out of the fires of hell!

I can’t.

But Jesus can.

He paid for all of our sins. Even the sins of that guy that I want in hell. But if Jesus has forgiven him then I must also forgive him. So I do. And I hope that he heard about Jesus before he exhaled for the last time.

Where are you with Jesus? Have you accepted his gift of forgiveness yet?

You stink but so do I. We all do. Get that taken care of please.

Familiarity

I was recently planning a day trip to my “hometown” of Pendleton Oregon. I put it in quotes because I wasn’t born there. I just lived there in my formative grade school years. Oh and 7th grade too.

I was hoping to see a few old friends. Most of those I contacted said “gee that’s nice. Make it worth our while, Bring your wife, we want to meet her.” (If I could underline or italicize the word her would be both).

My wife is a very special lady and we tried do that, she was busy recording a Christmas album.

I’m the one who grew up there. I’m the “old friend”. But I get it. Mary is the exotic foreigner. The urbanite princess from the far away city of Ephrata.

Jesus was a homie from Nazareth. He wasn’t born there but he grew up there. He went to the 1st century version of cub scouts there. He went through puberty there. He had his bar mitzvah there. (Did I spell that correctly ?) He worked in his dads shop there.

Matthew 13 tells the story. We have parallel stories in the other Gospels. They are worth the read.

The visit didn’t go well.

“53 When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. 54 Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him.

But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.”

58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.”

I grew up in a church. My family went every time the door was open. My mom even created extra nights of bible studies so we could be there more often. I was hearing the words and seeing the ministry but it had become so familiar that I didn’t see God in any of it. I completely missed the Gospel message. I didn’t hear the good words, the good news.

In Ephesians:

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

In Romans:

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

9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

The danger is there for me even today, to let the good news become so familiar that I lose God in my spiritual routine.

God loves us. Jesus died to pay for our sins. Not everyone knows that yet. I need to stay aware of that, stay awake and share my story.

For my Pendleton friends, I’ll be back there soon. Put the coffee on. Well not yet. I don’t like old coffee. But soon.