Changing Burlap to silk

I write this today with both hands and both eyes and both feet intact.

If I took this verse in Matthew 18 literally none of that would be true.

“6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! 8 If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.”

My eyes, my hands and my feet all cause me to stumble but only because my heart told them to. My heart, where all my thoughts are pondered and decisions made. It is desperately and decidedly wicked and selfish. My heart wants what it wants no matter what or who says differently. What can I do to be pure? What can I do To wash away sin and selfishness that is woven into my very fabric? My heart and soul are burlap, rough and coarse.

Jesus.

Jesus can and will take over our lives. He will cover us in his perfection so our Father God only sees his son when he looks at us, and as he is draped over us on the outside he begins to rebuild us on the inside. To restore and refine us. To turn our burlap souls into silk or satin or 600 count cotton.

God is the God of “and yet” or “even while”.

“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.”

While we were yet sinners Jesus willingly died for us. He died for me. He died for us. He died for you.

If you don’t know him yet, do you want to? If you do know him, can you think of someone who doesn’t know him that you can gently show his love to?

#matthew18 #doesJesusloveme?

Our God is one, in 3 persons.

John 14

The Lord our God is one! (in three persons).

Deuteronomy 6:4 says “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!”

Jesus quoted this verse when asked what was the most important commandment was.

And yet he says this here; “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.

25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. 30 I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, 31 but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.

“Come now; let us leave.”

Our God is one God. Our God is 3 persons. Our God is the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. One God. Three persons. One God.

This idea that Jesus states here was as radical a thought then as it is hard to understand now. God pre-existed creation, he became a man, not BOOM here I am a man, but like labor and delivery, smack smack “wah”, “it’s a boy!”, became a man. Lived life, had a job, ate, drank, went to weddings and funerals man, (while at the wedding turning water into wine, while at the funeral, raising the dead). He was a man a special God in flesh kind of man, who lived, he then died. But he didn’t stay dead! He rose from the grave! He hung around for 7 weeks and then went back to heaven to work on our home so he can take us there to be with him. While he is away he sent himself, as God in Spirit form, like the wind, we can’t see it but we feel it. We can’t see Him but we feel Him.

The Lord our God is one. To quote Mr Waturri from Joe versus the Volcano, “I’m not arguing that with you”. However, The Lord our God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, is one.

I am bummed that I don’t get to hang out with Jesus in the flesh…..yet. But I do get to be filled with His Holy Spirit, have Him, God in Spirit live in me. I know that I have yet to fully understand or appreciate or take full advantage of this amazing truth. But it there for me, for us. He is there, for me for us.

Have you invited him in? Will you invite him in? I did.

“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.