Last post from the gospel of John we talked about how Jesus loved both the Samaritan woman living on the margin, and the Jewish man leading the mainstream. And we talked about how we need to love people in the same way Jesus did: all people, from all walks. Jesus loved them all.
We left off with Jesus asking the woman at the well for a drink of water. And when he does, she asks him why he, a Jewish man, would ask her, a woman of Samaria, for a drink.
“He who comes from heaven is above all. He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure.” (John 3:31-34)
The 1 Thing I Do
“No one receives his testimony,” John the Baptist said. Why is that?
First, let me say that I think what John is saying here is, in his day almost no one received Jesus’ testimony. It seems that John uses the phrase “no one” as a figure of speech. Because it’s true that while Jesus remained on earth, relatively few received his testimony and accepted him as Savior and Messiah. But that’s not the main point I want to write about today. The main point is the one thing I do to drown out Jesus’ testimony from my hearing. And we find insight about that one thing in a group of Jesus’ contemporaries: the Continue reading →
So the people selling animals in the temple, and the people changing out currency were taking advantage of the situation. If you traveled to Jerusalem for Passover, and you showed up with a sacrificial animal, it had to be without blemish. The priests were the ones who decided if it was acceptable or not. Well guess what, it was usually found to be unacceptable. But, conveniently located right here in the temple we happen to be selling pre-approved animals for sacrifice–for an exorbitant price. And, you have to pay for the animal with the temple currency. We can exchange your cash for our currency, in fact we have money changers right here in the temple standing by, but, it will cost you.
Providing a means of exchanging currency and providing animals for the Passover sacrifice was a good thing, but overcharging wasn’t. It was a sin. It was a sin found right there inside God’s temple. And Jesus, out of love for his Father’s house, turned the tables on those taking advantage of the people. He took action.
The religious leadership of his day asked Jesus: What sign can you show us to demonstrate you have the authority to cleanse the temple like this?
He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter). The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” John 1:42-43
Nate Larkin, Samson And The Pirate Monks
I recently heard a man speak by the name of Nate Larkin. Nate wrote a book called Samson and the Pirate Monks, and in his book and during his talk he spoke of the different personas he developed as he navigated life. For church and when he was in the presence of God there was Saint Nate. Saint Nate was good (at least on the outside), he memorized scripture, and he said all the right things. He polished that persona to perfection. Nate was great at looking bright and shiny to other Christians. But later, in high school, he found girls weren’t attracted to Saint Nate, so he developed another persona he calls Date Nate. Date Nate was smooth and fun and cool. And you know what? It worked. He could find dates when he took on the Date Nate persona. Then he met the girl of his dreams. But the only problem was, she didn’t like Date Nate. So he invented yet another persona he calls Mate Nate. And that worked too. The girl of his dreams married Mate Nate. Awhile later Nate entered the ministry. But he did so while carrying a dark secret: he was a sex addict, addicted to porn since his teens. After a few years working for a church, Nate noticed several high profile Continue reading →
Speaking of the early church in the Roman Empire, Kevin Palau writes:
“All they had was the real, living presence of Jesus Christ himself–living in them through the Holy Spirit, giving them what they needed to bear witness and radically love in ways the world could not explain.” From Palau’s book Unlikely)
(Tied for the most popular post of 2014 so far, from the archives)
Read Genesis 39:6-23
I don’t know what Joseph’s early responsibilities were when he first began at Potiphar’s house, but they may have been intensely physical, because Joseph was ripped (“well built” verse six tells us). He was also a good looking guy. And because of this, Joseph’s master’s wife notices him, and begins to proposition him, without much in the way of subtlety either.
Last week I was playing basketball. A group of us were there at the Cedar Hills Gym in Portland playing 3 on 2. That’s a little awkward, 3 on 2, but we were jabbering at each other and generally having a great time anyway. Then in walks this guy who’s tall. Not NBA tall, but tall, you know, like 6 feet 5 inches. He’s taller than the rest of us, and he hardly says a word. He just joins in to make it 3 on 3 and–in a silent Clint Eastwood-like manner–proceeds to completely dismantle us. It didn’t matter how we arranged the teams, the silent assassin always won. He was so amazingly effective.
And that guy reminds me of Jesus.
He reminds me of Jesus because of this curious quirk in the gospel accounts. Continue reading →
Before we get to the one thing, I just want to establish that God uses people. He always has in the past and He still does today. God uses people to reveal Himself to the world. There are exceptions, like the time he led the Israelites with the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night (3,500 years or so ago). But it’s people He uses, most of the time, to reveal Himself to the world. Even a casual reading of just a few chapters of scripture affirms this.
Are You A Christian?
Are you a Christian?
If you are, then God wants to use you. He wants to use you to reveal Himself to the world, and He wants you to do one thing in particular. And here’s the one thing: Continue reading →
Imagine you’re sitting in class with thirty-five other people on a Friday. It’s late afternoon and before your instructor dismisses you and your fellow students, he makes an announcement. He warns everyone to avoid downtown this weekend, because there’s a large (we’re talking hundreds of thousands) pro-life demonstration occurring there.
But just as soon as he says the words “pro-life,” there’s an overwhelming eruption in the classroom. It seems every student stands up from their chair and jeers and boos and hollers against the pro-lifers. You’re new to the group and their reaction takes you completely off guard. You’re shaken–because you’re pro-life.
From the moment the class booed and hissed at the notion of a pro-life demonstration, it felt almost impossible for you or anyone else to voice a pro-life point of view. The derision in the room was palpable.
Like most people, you like to think of yourself as independent and unconstrained by the thinking of people around you. But you’re sitting next to a good friend who knows you’re pro-life. And in the moments following the contemptuous crowd reaction you find yourself hoping he doesn’t say anything to tip off your sentiments. Continue reading →
In Dacula, Georgia a twenty-year old firefighter named Matthew Swatzell just finished a 24 hour shift. While he was driving home that morning he fell asleep at the wheel, crossed the center line, and drove head-on into an oncoming car. That car was carrying the wife, unborn son, and daughter of a youth pastor named Erik Fitzgerald.
Erik’s wife and son were killed in the crash. Only his nineteen month old daughter survived.