Lately, I’ve been doing some reading & spending some time in John 3, where Jesus is talking with Nicodemus. Their conversation has really sparked my curiosity on a few levels. To begin, this conversation was where Jesus made the famous statement, “You must be born again” Growing up in a pastor’s home, I heard this phrase “born again” multiple times & it’s been heavily used throughout Christianity with very weighty and significant importance. Consequently, I’ve always been a little more sensitive to this interchange between Jesus & Nicodemus.
With that in mind, please consider some important things about Nicodemus:
he was a man in a male dominated culture – his natural environment, POV, thinking, paradigm & frame of reference was all things male
he was a Jewish leader: not Roman, not Greek, not Persian, but Jewish with the rich heritage, culture and background of the OT, Moses, the Law, Torah, prophets, Psalms, etc; he was a religious expert in his culture
he was a Pharisee, which means that he held the same points of interpretation of the Law as the Pharisees as distinct from the Sadducees
he came to Jesus by night, possibly for a more private & offline conversation as opposed to a daytime, public discussion
Nicodemus’ first words with Jesus affirmed that they knew that Jesus was from God because of the validation of miracles to His ministry. Everything that Nicodemus does & says up to this point seems pretty normal stuff for who he is, a Jewish male Pharisee. He is talking about theology & miracles with Jesus which seems to be what Jesus is about.
But Jesus goes rogue
Jesus’ reply to Nicodemus has seemingly nothing to do with theology or miracles, but rather everything to do with birthing babies – you must be born again. It’s obvious by Nicodemus’ reply that he’s confused because he asks Jesus about the physical mechanics of a 2nd birth when a person is fully grown. It seems to me that obstetrics is a completely different topic than theology & miracles, or maybe not?????
I’m very much musing on this conversation between Nicodemus & Jesus and I expect that my musings will continue for quite awhile. In the meantime, here’s something you might be able to use in your daily living from my musings so far:
Sometimes I start conversations with God that wind up on a completely different & altogether better, deeper & richer experience. Let’s be careful not to limit our conversations with God to the topics of our choosing :)
I’m currently with my family on a vacation, enjoying some downtime. I find that I can chose how restful this vacation is or I can be stressed out about how much work I’m missing, checking my emails all the time, writing blogs, etc. Vacate means to leave the premise or to check out.
I think it’s good for all of us to occasionally leave the premise & check out for our own mental health, for the purpose of enjoying family & to give God the opportunity to engage with us with less competition for our attention. Celebrate the opportunities that God gives us for vacations, rest & pause :)
This question gets asked, I think, by every human on the planet at various times & for various reasons. Or the quick version, “why am I here?”
Clearly, this is an important question, but not at the expense of our daily living. Everyday we should be kind, generous, encouraging, gentle, use our time wisely, look for ways to bless & add value . . . . .
All of these things are important ingredients for our purpose everyday & knowing God’s call / purpose for our lives in a broader context is sometimes simply answered by keeping our feet on the ground today with these constructive decisions. You are important. You are wise & you are kind :)
As I write, my kids are doing an amazing job of cleaning the house. We divided up the responsibilities onto various checklists (laundry checklist, kitchen checklist, living / family room checklist, etc) & consequently, no one is thoroughly overwhelmed by the tasks that need to be done. Furthermore, each of my kids brings their unique personalities to their jobs so it’s fun to watch them jump in & invest some “sweat equity” to our quality of living :)
It’s my responsibility to oversee & quality check against the checklists they’re using to ensure that everything is done well & thoroughly. In some ways, this all reminds me of how God puts us together to bring the Kingdom of God into our daily reality. Some essentail ingredients include:
teamwork: the lone ranger paradigm doesn’t generally fit into kingdom thinking
focus: when my kids are distracted, they’re less effective & everthing takes longer; staying focused on God helps us to be more productive
oversight & integration: God never leaves us to our own devices & efforts to see God’s kingdom realized
mutually beneficial: a clean kitchen, clothes, bathroom and living areas are in everyone’s best interest & God’s kingdom is no different :)
I recently returned from leading our first team trip for Saving Moses and it’s been a little tricky getting back in the groove. A few things that I’m presently working through include the regular jet lag sleep challenges, the normal digestion excitement and catching up on missed sleep. Additionally, I’m trying to process some of my experiences and this has proven to be rather difficult.
When I get in these kinds of mindsets, I often get impatient with myself and frustrated that I can’t seem to get back to my regular groove, which only makes things more frustrating & difficult. Thankfully, God had a nice chat with me this morning and reminded me of a few helpful things:
temporary – life can change is big & dramatic ways, but more often, our current situations are temporary & are changing incrementally, even when we don’t know it
be gentle – I can often be harsh & impatient with myself, which often makes things worse; when I’m gentle, gracious and forgiving with myself, I seem to adapt and grow more easily
now – being present today, in Denver, Colorado with my kids, husband & church family is very good
All of us make decisions every day and as adults we get to manage the consequences of these decisions. If you want to get the best mileage or results from your decisions, consider making these “power choices”:
I hate the word “fail” – it almost makes me have a visceral gagging reaction, borderline puking. Thankfully, if I take a minute to pause, evaluate and collect myself, I don’t puke. But if I’m not careful, I can easily throw things into the “failure” column and in a nanosecond find myself back to mental wrestling mat, almost down for the count. As God & I were talking about this whole failure thing this morning, I was reminded about how Jesus looked hanging on the cross, beat to a bloody pulp and possibly personifying the ultimate failure. He was betrayed by his friends, completely helpless, physcially obliterated and even yelling at God, “Why have You forsaken Me?!??”
Hanging on the cross, Jesus looked more like a failure than anything I’ve ever experienced & yet from God’s perspective, perhaps Jesus had never been more successful in His earthly existence, up to that point. Let’s be careful that we don’t frame failure in the context of defeat, permanent or hopeless. Jesus rose from the dead and living in our hearts, we have resurrection potential every day.
Be sure to pass this along to anyone you know who is struggling with seeming defeat or failure :)