Those Yucky People

“Why is He eating & drinking with sinners and tax collectors?”  This is what the scribes of the Pharisees asked Jesus’ disciples in Mark 2:16, when Jesus got all cozy with these less than upright scum.  The tax collectors and sinners were considered “yucky people” by the religious leaders and zealots of Jesus’ day.  So no wonder they questioned Jesus’ decision to not only associate, but also get cozy with such reprobates.

And I’m so thankful for His reply in Mark 2:17, “It’s not the healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick;  I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”  Thankfully, Jesus has never required us to get everything clean and pristine in our lives before He would hang out with us.  Not only does He accept us as we are, but He makes us better because of His genuine love for us.  In the same way, let’s be certain that no one in our lives gets the “yucky” treatment, being ostracized, belittled or shamed.  Indeed, Jesus loves us and wants to love through us!

Sheep or Goat?

Who is:  hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, in jail or an immigrant?  I was reading in Matthew 25 this morning about Jesus’ parable distinguishing between sheep & goat behavior.  In this parable, the sheep are the people who see others around them who have various needs like clothing, food, shelter, belonging, care, attention and connection.  In contrast, the goats in Jesus’ parable had no time, attention or capacity for needy people.

And this parable never fails to arrest my attention, forcing me to inventory my intentions and actions for sheep and goat behvaiors.  I want to say with a genuine heart that I love Jesus, giving Him my worship & affection.  But the reality is that however I treat the needy people in my life (those who are hungry, naked, thirsty, sick, living in bondage, or disenfranchised), is how I treat Jesus since He said in Matthew 25;45, “Whatever you do for the least of these [the needy folk] is what you do for Me.”

This verse always challenges me to love well, when I’d rather justify my selfish perspective 🙂

Willing to Change?

Right motives but wrong target:  when Saul was going to Damascus to arrest the followers of Jesus, he was endeavoring to promote adherence to God’s ways, but he missed the point that Jesus is God.  I think Saul / Paul had good intentions, but he was misdirected.  Thankfully, God interrupted his plans & gave him some pause to make some major adjustments to his belief system.

I wonder for us today, if we don’t sometimes need to have some adjustments to our goals.  Similar to Saul / Paul, I think we can have very noble motives and intentions (adherence to God’s ways), but how we accomplish such noble motives can be tricky.  Ultimately, when we are followers of Jesus, we need to make genuine love our motive & outcome because of what Jesus says in John 13:35, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Are there any areas in your life that need to be changed so that genuine love is your endgame?

Selah 🙂

Stormy Seasons

Life seems to have seasons that are stormy, despite our best efforts for stability, serenity & certainty.  Stormy seasons can include:  getting laid off from a job, a marital crisis, a literal tornado, health accident or diagnosis and LOADS more.  If we’ve invited Jesus into our lives as storm prevention insurance, there’s a good chance that we’ll be disappointed.  I say this because Jesus never promises us that walking with Him will prevent all storms.  Indeed, walking with Jesus can make for some stormy times in life, both in our interior and exterior.

The exterior stormy seasons happen for lots of reasons, but thankfully Jesus gives us peace on the inside that can be greater than the external storm.  Sometimes we have seasons in our lives where our guts feel stormy:  when we’re unsettled, hurt, disappointed with God, wrestling with temptation, feeling discouraged, depleted or depressed, etc.

I’m thankful that Jesus is the Prince of Peace and that there is no storm, internal or external, that Jesus cannot calm.  Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus, no matter the season of life in which we find ourselves!

Wrong Place, Maybe

When I go to the grocery store, I expect to find groceries & when I go to my health club, I expect to find weight machines & workout stuff.  So people come to church & expect to find Jesus, but here’s an interesting exception for you to consider:

Looking for Jesus

When do we look for Jesus? And what do we expect to find, when we experience Him?  It seems to me that genuine Jesus is irresistible but religious Jesus isn’t nearly as riveting nor attractive. Here’s something short & interesting when you thinking about looking for Jesus:

Was Jesus Cranky?

““I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
In Luke 5:32, Jesus told the religious leaders these words in reply to their complaint about Him eating & drinking with shady characters. And throughout all of Luke 5, the people who get a sharp tongue from Jesus are the religious leaders.
As I’ve thought about this, maybe Jesus was loving this group of people by being cranky & confrontational because they were deceived. Perhaps Jesus wanted to heal the deception in their lives so they could have an intimate relationship w Him & they needed the non-gentle approach. Let’s remember that genuine love celebrates truth 🙂

When to Quit

“He’s too heavy.  This is a stupid idea.  It’s awkward to carry him.  There are too many people.  This won’t work.  I’m tired.  We might drop him.  We’d have to rip open the roof.”

There’s a paralytic dude in Luke 5 whom Jesus heals.  But this story isn’t quite that simple.  Indeed, when I thought about what happened to get this paralytic dude in front of Jesus, it pretty much floored me (no pun intended).  In these verses, some guys decided to carry the paralytic to Jesus for healing.  But it turned out to be more complicated than the simple steps of: pick up, carry & get him healed.

The men who set the paralytic dude in front of Jesus decided that nothing would deter them from getting the man in front of Jesus, NOT:

  • his paralysis which made him heavy & cumbersome
  • the crowds that made it impossible to get the paralyzed man in the door (or possible window)
  • hoisting the paralyzed man on the roof
  • tearing open the roof
  • lowering a paralytic from the roof to get him smack in front of Jesus

Perhaps it may take some extra effort to help get someone in front of Jesus, but be certain that an encounter with genuine Jesus is worth any effort, sacrifice or inconvenience 🙂

Jesus Take the Wheel :)

A few years ago, there were some cute movies, Finding Nemo & Finding Dory.  Each movie was about the long search to find a missing son & a beloved friend.  When I think about finding Jesus, I’m encouraged that Jesus is accessible throughout every day!  Check out this video:

Jesus Take the Wheel

Ready for Christmas?

Now that Thanksgiving is in the rear view mirror, Christmas is ready to take center stage. And with Christmas , come all the associated activities: decorating, parties, concerts, shopping, cookies, wrapping, etc. In the midst of the hub bub, let’s keep our hearts & focus attentive to Jesus. He’s a really quick video that could help you keep your focus on Jesus throughout this holiday season:

Eclips-ing

The moon eclipsing the sun today is a noteworthy event & hopefully you have some eclipse glasses so you don’t look directly at the sun during the eclipse. I read about a man who looked at the sun in the last eclipse & his vision was permanently damaged – no bueno.
Although it’s rare, the bright light of the sun can indeed be diminished & even eclipsed. But let us never forget that Jesus, the Light of the world, can never be diminished nor eclipsed. So let’s be certain that we don’t allow shadows, clouds, confusion or darkness into our souls, emotions, thoughts or outlook.
How can we keep Jesus as our light?

  • Pay attention to what you let into your thoughts & soul
  • Do you thoughts / emotions gravitate to darkness or light?
  • Remember that Gods Word is a lamp unto our feet & light unto our path – Ps 119:105

No Pretending

“The well is deep & you have nothing to draw with.” Little did the Samaritan woman know that her observation about the deep well would foreshadow the deep conversation she would have with Jesus in John 4. Initially, their discussion was about getting Jesus a drink of water, but in no time, Jesus went for the jugular when He told her to bring along her husband & then He read her mail about the litany of failed marriages she had. Clearly, with Jesus there was no pretending.
And I think this value rings true for us today as well. When it comes to talking wth Jesus, there’s no sense in posturing or pretending. It’s better to come to Jesus in full disclosure & entire access. This is an essential ingredient to live in the continual state of healing & redemption that Jesus has for us!! The Samaritan woman went back to her town & declared to them, “Come & see a man who told me everything I ever did!” And thus began the Jesus revolution that turned her town upside down!

Genuine Jesus!

I’ve been watching a trend across our nation pertaining to churches & marketing. There’s no shortage of articles or content being generated about the decline in church attendance across the generations as well as a significant concern related to the seeming increase of moral depravity. Consequently, we have loads of marketing strategies to reach a younger demographic, become more appealing in our doctrine with more trendy & hip music, along with clothing adjustments & scheduling conveniences. I think all of these things are great, with one MAJOR interjection (or interruption):

JESUS

In my brief years on this planet, I’ve come to see that genuine Jesus is nothing but altogether irresistible, full stop. Indeed, the original marketing plan that God has laid out for us is in John 12:32, where Jesus says, “If I be lifted up, I’ll will draw all men unto Me.”
In our efforts to attract people to Jesus, let’s never make it ever about anything more than genuine Jesus!

Object, Project or Person?

How we treat people reflects what we think about them on the inside.  So if we treat the barista like an extension of the espresso machine, then we’re thinking of them in terms of an object rather than a living human.  This happens alot when we get in transactional modes of interaction & neglect to see the person with whom we’re interacting.

When we try to change someone:  correcting their attitudes, challenging their political opinions, getting them closer to Jesus, making them “better”;  let’s be careful that we’re not treating them like a “project“.  The exceptions to this concern can be the parent, teacher or mentor roles, all of which are most affective when we perceive the recipient of our input as a human & not merely a project.

I think what made Jesus so entirely irresistable by the masses of humanity, when He walked on the earth, is that He interacted with everyone with authenticity, genuine love and sincere interest.  He engaged with each individual as a person, not as a project nor object.  This is what happens when we interact with others from the place of genuine love rather than manipulation, achievement or domination.  Let’s allow our lives to remain in genuine love so that our interactions with others resound with redemption & reconciliation!

 

The Lethal Hangnail

“The devil would kill ya with a hangnail if he could!” My dad had lots of fun quotes like this. From my childhood, I remember people laughing at this quote & I smiled like I understood, but I didn’t get it. Now that I have some life tread under my belt, I get it.

The enemy of your soul is out to rattle your cage, poison your thinking & sideline you with anything possible, even a hangnail.
Don’t let him – full stop.
Some helpful pointers:

  • Keep your eyes in Jesus.
  • Don’t quit.
  • Keep loving wholly.
  • Pray intensely.
  • Feed yourself the Bible everyday.
  • Chose faith & reject doubt.

Never forget that greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world!

Do You Want Resurrection?

Here’s the truth: I’m selfish, impatient, insensitive, unforgiving, unkind, irreverent, apathetic & heaps more ugly things. While I don’t want to behave in these ways, nonetheless, the bad that I don’t want to do is what I often wind up doing. And the good that I want to do, I don’t often do. I want to live in resurrection & not my deplorable humanity. So what’s the answer?
The answer to living in resurrection is to be crucified with Christ – Galatians 2:20. Indeed, there were two men crucified with Christ. One man mocked Jesus with the rest of the bystanders & one man recognized Jesus for who He is, the sinless Son of God.
So on this Good Friday, I chose to join Jesus on the cross, crucifying my flesh so that Jesus resurrected life can flow through my daily living. When I live the crucified life, then I’m unselfish, patient, sensitive, forgiving, kind, reverent & ultimately, genuine love is my default nature! Anyone care to join me in the crucified life so Jesus’ resurrection can live through us?

Are You Gluten Intolerant?

Many people are removing gluten from their eating for allergy & health reasons so it’s increasingly common to hear from people that they’ve eliminated bread from their diet.
There’s one bread, however, that we would be wise to increase for our daily consumption – the Bread of Life, who is Jesus!


Lately, I’ve been trying my hand at baking bread with mixed results. But there are four basic steps to letting Jesus, the Bread of life, participate in our daily living:

  1. Assemble ingredients – be sure to always have time in the Bible & prayer everyday
  2. Mix ingredients – keeping prayer & the Bible in isolated compartments will never be as effective as letting them mix throughout our days, activities, relationships, conversations & responsibilities
  3. Proof – time for the rise is essential for bread to have a palatable texture & taste; let’s be careful not to get impatient during the process or proofing
  4. Bake – heat is necessary for the bread to be portable, practical & edible; Jesus helps us through all of life’s hotspots!

Eat good bread, the Bread of Life!

What Do You Repeat?

Do you have mindless habits? All of us have things that we do without giving much thought to them, such as brushing our teeth, driving home, morning routines, etc. It can be really helpful to have these kind of routines, but sometimes they’re counterproductive.

For example, in Luke 10, Martha & Mary had Jesus come to their house for dinner. Based on Martha’s behavior in other stories in the Gospels, it seems like she fell into the routine of cooking, serving & being busy with getting stuff done. All of these things aren’t inherently wicked, but if we allow our routines to sabotage our fellowship with Jesus, then they become more of a hindrance than a help.
Let’s always remember that Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 to seek His kingdom first & we’ll have what we need! Let’s be sure our routines reinforce our intimacy with Jesus rather than distract us in mindless disconnect 🙂

Does the Bible Know You?

I appreciate that this is a weird question & kind of a backwards idea to knowing the Bible.  Nonetheless, I think it’s a really significant thought & definitely worth your consideration.  I say this because I grew up with heaps & heaps of Bible content:  my mom started memorizing Proverbs when I was around 8years old, I went to Sunday School every week, took Bible classes in high school, etc.  I would say that I have a relatively firm grasp on the Bible.

But I don’t think that having a sturdy grasp on the Bible is as important as the Bible having a firm grasp on us.  I say this because we can far too easily quote the Bible instead of live it, or let the Bible live through us.

I think about this in terms of Paul’s words in Colossians 3:16, about the Word of God living richly in us.  If I’m going to let the Bible know me, then I need to give the Bible access to my thoughts, emotions, secrets, dark corners, painful memories, relationships, character, priorities, etc.  When the Bible lives richly in me, when the Bible knows me, then I find that I grow & mature in being Jesus’ follower.  Let’s not only know the Bible, but let’s allow the Bible to fully know us!