Bounty on Tim Tebow’s Virginity

Tim Tebow (Photo credit: westcoastfiya.com)

Apparently a $1 million dollar bounty has been placed on Tim Tebow’s virginity. See the Washington Post article for more: The temptation of Tim Tebow – Guest Voices – The Washington Post.

Hard to believe our culture has sunk this low…

“…we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Ephesians 6:12

Joseph and Jesus, Sold by His Brothers: Genesis 37:12-36

Joseph Sold by His Brothers (Photo credit: DoJewish Blog)

Jesus said to them on the road to Emmaus:

“How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

Luke 24:25-27



Genesis 37:12-36

So Joseph’s brothers are overseeing their father’s flocks in an area near Shechem. Israel (Jacob) says to Joseph, You know how your brothers are out with the flocks near Shechem? Well I need you to head out there.

Israel sent Joseph, his most favored son, to his flocks. Joseph would ultimately save his brothers and the nation of Egypt from perishing in the famine. God the Father sent Jesus, His most favored son, to His flocks, the people on earth. Jesus would ultimately provide a means to save his brothers, and the entire world. (Matthew 3:17)

Joseph replies to his father, Sounds good.

Israel says, Head out there and see how your brothers and the flocks are doing then come back and let me know what you found.

Then he sends Joseph out from where they are, in the Valley of Hebron, toward Shechem.

When Joseph gets to Shechem, he wanders around in the fields for awhile looking for his brothers until a man asks him, What are you looking for?

Joseph says, I’m looking for my brothers, they’re grazing their flocks around here somewhere. Can you tell me where they are?

They’ve moved on from here, the man answers. I overheard them say they’re going to Dothan.

So Joseph continues on to Dothan and finds his brothers. They see Joseph off in the distance and while he’s still out of earshot, they plot to kill him.

“Lazarus come out!” Jesus said. And Lazarus, who had been dead, left his resting place in the cave, and came out, witnessed by many. The Sanhedrin never disputed Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, in fact, they never disputed any of Jesus’ miracles. But they were afraid, because He was performing so many miracles, the people would follow Jesus, leaving the Sanhedrin without a power base. Bringing Lazarus back from the dead proved to be the last straw for them.

So they plotted to kill Jesus. (John 11:17-55)

Here comes the dreamer! they say to each other mockingly. We can kill him now and toss his body into one of these cisterns and we’ll just say a wild animal attacked him and ate him. Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams.

Problem for the brothers: the dreams aren’t Joseph’s, they’re from God, and God’s dreams always come to pass.

Well Reuben hears all this, and as the oldest, he knows he’ll ultimately be held responsible for Joseph, so he says, Let’s not kill him, let’s not shed any blood. Instead we’ll throw him into this empty cistern out here, but don’t hurt him. Reuben’s thinking he’ll come back later, pull Joseph out of the cistern, and return him to their father.

Reuben is hoping, by throwing Joseph in the cistern, he can satisfy his brothers, even as Pontius Pilate had Jesus scourged, hoping to satisfy Jesus’ brothers the Jews who cried for Jesus’ crucifixion.

So when Joseph shows up, they strip him of his robe, the one of many colors, with oversized sleeves, the one his father gave him, and they toss him into the empty cistern.

Joseph was stripped of his special garment, even as Jesus was stripped of his seamless garment. And down into the empty cistern Joseph goes, even as Jesus went down into the grave. (Matthew 27:59-60, Mark 15:46, Luke 23:53, John 19:41-42)

Then they sit down to eat.

As they’re eating, they look up and see a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. The caravan’s loaded with goods: spices, balm, and myrrh. They’re on their way to Egypt to do some trading.

After seeing the caravan, Judah comes up with an idea, (or an idea was given to Judah by the Lord) he says, What do we gain if we kill him? Instead let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not hurt him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.

We can avoid having Joseph’s blood on our hands if we turn him over to these Gentiles, Judah and his brothers, the other fathers of the tribes of Israel are thinking. Likewise, their descendants said it was against Roman law for the Jews to execute Jesus themselves. So they turned Jesus over to the Gentiles. It’s interesting to note, though they said, “We have no right to execute anyone” they were perfectly willing to stone the woman caught in adultery, and they were more than enthusiastic about throwing Jesus off the cliff. But it was prophesied Jesus was to die by crucifixion and only the Romans executed criminals in that manner. So this took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die. (John 8:1-11, Luke 4:29John 18:31-32)

Here also, we see the trap of comparing your own actions to an action or intention that’s worse. Let’s be good guys and not kill Joseph, he’s our brother after all. Instead lets sell him into slavery so we never see him again, then lie to our father saying he’s dead. How much better we’re treating him than if we had chosen to kill him!

Of course this makes no sense at all. It never makes sense to compare our own bad deeds to those that are even worse, whether they be your own or someone elses. Your own holiness is your only concern. And there isn’t anyone who is too holy before the Lord.

Finally we see here the result of envy. Matthew Henry states, “Where envy reigns, pity is banished, and humanity itself is forgotten.” And Proverbs 27:4 tells us, Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy? In our story we see siblings driven by envy to plot the death of their own brother, even as he desperately pleaded for his life! (Genesis 42:21) Envy: stay clear of it. Don’t allow yourself to be caught by the green eyed monster, or you may find yourself doing things you never dreamed you were capable of.

His brothers buy into the idea so when the Midianite traders come by, they pull Joseph up out of the cistern and sell him into slavery for twenty shekels of silver. The Midianites then continue on their way to Egypt.

Jesus was sold, for 30 pieces of silver, by one of his brothers. (Matthew 26:14-16, Mark 14:10-11, Luke 22:3-6, Zechariah 11:12-13)

All this occurs while Reuben was off somewhere. When he returns and sees Joseph isn’t there in the cistern, he tears his clothes. He goes back to his brothers and says, The boy’s not there! What am I going to do?

Reuben thinks he’s undone because of Joseph’s plight, when in reality, had Joseph not been sold into slavery, they all would have been undone, by famine. When the two Mary’s returned and saw Jesus wasn’t there in the tomb, they were distressed also, but in reality, had the tomb not been empty, we’re all undone. (Luke 24:1-8) (Matthew Henry)

So they kill a goat and dip Joseph’s robe in its blood. When they arrive home they show it to their father and say, We found this. You better have a look at it, it might be Joseph’s robe.

Of course Jacob recognizes it right away and says, It is my son’s robe! Some wild animal has devoured him. He’s been torn to pieces for sure.

Then Jacob tears his clothes, puts on sackcloth, and mourns for Joseph for many days. All his sons and daughters come to comfort him, but he refuses their consolation. “No,” he says, “I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave.” So his father wept for him.

To Jacob, Joseph is dead. But, there’s good news he doesn’t know about.

Meanwhile, the Midianites sell Joseph to Potiphar, Pharoah’s captain of the guard.

To the disciples and all who knew of His crucifixion, Jesus was dead. But there was good news coming they didn’t know about. It was dark on Friday, but Sunday’s coming. (See previous post: Back From the Dead)

Speaking of Jesus, Luke 25 verse 7 says, Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

I think the story of Joseph was probably a big part of that explanation.

And I’m reminded of something else Jesus said:

“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” (Luke 8:8)

References:

Bible Gateway

Blue Letter Bible

Matthew Henry

Walton, Matthews, Chavalas, (2000), IVP Bible Background Commentary, O.T.

Jon Courson



7 Steps to Your Dream — Genesis 37:5-11

7 Steps to Your Dream success

Joseph’s Dream — Photo credit: poetry-bible.ru

Last post on Genesis 37:1-4 we saw how both Joseph and Jesus’ brothers saw they were their father’s/Father’s favorite and how they envied them. We also saw how both Jesus and Joseph have a heart for their respective fathers.

In this post we’ll learn about Joseph’s dreams. Then after the story of Joseph’s dreams, we’ll discover how to learn what dream God has in mind for you.

Genesis 37:5-11

When his brothers saw he was their father’s favorite, they envied him, to the point where they couldn’t speak a kind word to him.

Around this same time, Joseph had a dream. He shared it with his brothers, with great excitement, I imagine, after which, they hated him all the more. He said, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”

His brothers said to him, Do you intend to set yourself up to reign over us? Will you rule over us?

And they hated him even more because of his dream and what he had said.

Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”

When he told his father about the second dream, his father rebuked him, What kind of dream is that? Will your mother and I and all your brothers bow down to the ground before you?

His brothers were jealous, but his father, though he rebuked him, kept the matter in mind and secretly wondered if there might not be something to these dreams.

Dreams:

Jesus very plainly states, the Old Testament scriptures “testify about me.” And that, Moses “wrote about me.” (John 5:39-40, John 5:45-46) We see it here in the story of Joseph. Like Joseph, Jesus had a dream given to Him by God. Joseph’s dream was to ultimately rule and reign in government. Jesus’ dream was to sacrifice Himself for all of humanity, then to rise up and ultimately rule and reign over everyone and everything, over all there is, at the right hand of the throne of God.

I’m going to give you 7 steps to help you learn what God’s dream is for you, but, before I do, I want to point out God’s dream for Joseph was only recognized by Joseph. His brothers derided him for it. And God’s dream for Jesus was only recognized by Jesus. In fact, when Jesus shared His dream, the religious establishment rejected Him, His own disciple Peter rebuked Him, and even after His dream was finished, after the resurrection, His disciples didn’t recognize Him at first.

So when God gives you your dream, don’t be surprised if you and God are the only two who recognize it. But don’t let that deter you. It didn’t deter Joseph. It didn’t deter Jesus. And as long as you follow the 7 steps below, don’t let it deter you.

So the question I want you to ask yourself right now is, “What is God’s dream for me? And how can I verify that dream is what God desires for me, in the most successful way possible.”

7 Steps to Learning God’s Dream for You:

1) Give Thanks and Praise

What a secret this is to successful prayer about any matter. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name, Psalm 100:4 tells us. When you’re entering into His presence to ask Him to give you the precise dream He has for you, first give thanks for prayers already answered, and for those dreams, however small, which have already happened for you.

2) God’s Word

Immerse yourself in God’s word. Soak up God’s perspective of you and the world around you. Seeing yourself and the world through God’s eyes is one of the most powerful things you can do. In this life we see as through a glass darkly, at best, but God’s word is a lamp for your feet and a light for your path. (1 Corinthians 13:12, Psalm 119:105) Time in His word correlates with enlightenment regarding His will.

3) Go Pray

When Peter received his vision on the rooftop, he was in a quiet place, in prayer. (Acts 10:9-13) When John received the great revelation, he was in a quiet place on the island of Patmos, and he was “in the Spirit.” (Revelation 1:9-10) When Nebuchadnezzar demanded his dream be interpreted, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah prayed for revelation, and received it. (Daniel 2:17-19)

So turn off the TV, close the cover of your laptop, put your phone in another room, and carve out quiet time for you to pray for God’s revelation concerning what dream He has in mind for you. Over and over again we see in scripture, people in a quiet place, very intentionally seeking to hear from God.

4) God’s People

After Jesus ascended and left the disciples, they were without their leader for the first time in several years. They needed direction. So what did they do? They gathered together. They were all together in one place when God made it obvious for them, what to do next. (Acts 2:1)

So go to church. Hang out with God’s people. Ask questions about the dreams of those who are more godly than yourself. Pray with people about what God wants for your life. Church and hanging with God’s people are key parts to learning what God’s specific dream is for you.

5) Give Love

As we’ll see later, God’s dream for Joseph was to save millions of people from a devastating famine. God’s dream for Jesus was to save all of mankind from their inherent faults and flaws, and to reconcile us to God.

You probably noticed, in both dreams, given to Joseph and Jesus, serving others is central to the dream. I’m not saying you have to be a savior to the world, but how others are blessed by your dream provides great indication of whether or not your dream is simply a self absorbed means of selfish gratification or is truly the dream God has in mind for you.

After all, you have to recognize, “If in my dream I do not have love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2)

6) Great passion

God designed you for your dream, and your desires and passions are central to that design. So if you hate high humidity, bugs, and camping in the jungle, your dream probably doesn’t involve missionary work in Africa. I’ll never forget reading about how one of the big considerations for Chuck Smith choosing to pastor a church in Costa Mesa was the great surfing available in that area. In fact, the first time he decided to teach through the entire Bible was partly because he needed enough material to keep him in Costa Mesa where he could continue to surf.

A big consideration of whether or not your dream is truly from the Lord is, how well it fits with your passions and desires.

7) Give Thanks

“Well we already gave thanks in step 1,” you might be saying.

Give thanks again. Only this time give thanks, in faith, for what the Lord is going to do.

Moving forward with an attitude of hope, expectation, and thanksgiving is key to successfully receiving and living out God’s dream for you. Besides, one thing you know for sure is to give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)



I’m not proposing this as some kind of formula for learning God’s dream for you. God can’t be confined to a formula. But look through scripture and see if it isn’t true. Those who received their dreams and revelation from God were 1) thankful, 2) spent time in God’s word (or even wrote some of God’s word) 3) prayerful, 4) hung with God’s people, 5) lovers of God and people, 6) passionate, and 7) faithful.

There is no formula but it’s undeniable these seven steps are modeled in scripture.

Your dream becomes your story:

What a phenomenal story resulted from Joseph receiving and living out God’s dream for him.

And what an amazing story was born from Jesus receiving and living out God’s dream for Him.

You have to ask yourself, “What story will be told about my life? When people tell my story, what will they say?”

“He watched a lot of TV?”

or

“He was amazing at that RPG, or at that first person shooter game?”

or

“His Castleville castle was the best I’ve ever seen?”

Or will your story be one of value from God’s perspective:

“He went to work everyday and did his job with integrity and honor, as unto the Lord.”

or

“He lived out God’s word, as a father and husband.”

or

“He loved the Lord his God with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his mind.”

or even,

“He dared great adventures, for Christ. He swung for the fence, for Him.”

You see, in the end, finding and choosing to follow God’s dream for you, will determine what story will be told of you.

Try those 7 steps for a couple of months, see what happens to your life.

Live out the dream God has designed uniquely for you.

Swing for the fence, for Him.

In Christ’s name.

References:

Bible Gateway

Blue Letter Bible

Walton, Matthews, Chavalas. (2000). IVP Bible Background Commentary, Old Testament

Matthew Henry

John Piper

Chuck Smith, (2001) Living Water

Jon Courson


Who is Jesus? Hints and Clues – John 1:51

Who is Jesus? (Photo credit: layoutsparks.com)

“Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”

Jesus Christ, John 1:51



How Jesus Loved People:

What a seemingly random comment Jesus makes here. Just before, He was affirming Nathanael as an Israelite, and commending him for his genuineness, honesty, and faith (See previous post Jesus Christ and Criticism: How Jesus Responds to a Cynic), when He suddenly switches gears and shares this scripture from Genesis 28:10-19.

In Genesis 28, Jacob stops for the night at a place called Luz and, using a rock for a pillow, goes to sleep. He has a very vivid dream there in which he sees a stairway going from the earth to heaven, and the angels of God ascending and descending on it. There above the top of the stairway stands God Himself.

But Jesus says to Nathanael, he’ll see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.

What’s the meaning of this statement?

What Jesus is sharing here is the answer to a mystery. The stairway, the one connecting us here on earth with God above, the stairway that connects heaven and earth, the stairway providing us with access to God, is, Jesus Christ Himself.

That’s what Jesus is sharing with Nathanael.

Jesus loved Nathanael enough to share this amazing truth with him, that God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:17) He sent Jesus Christ to be Nathanael’s stairway to heaven.

Jesus is the stairway.

Jesus is the way. (John 14:6)

Jesus is the connection to God.

Jesus expressed His love for Nathanael by sharing this truth with him. And I love how He did it. At this early juncture in Jesus’ relationship with Nathanael, He didn’t launch into a long explanation of how the atonement for sin requires the shedding of blood, and how Nathanael must count the cost of following Jesus before becoming His disciple, and how he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. (Matthew 16:21)

Yes, all of this is eventually shared, but in the beginning, after starting off with affirmation of Nathanael, and commendation for Nathanael, Jesus shares in a very brief and simple manner, a hint of who He is: the Son of Man, the conduit between heaven and earth, the One Who connects men with God.

Jesus is the way the truth, and the life. (John 14:6)

He is the Stairway to heaven.

“So that’s how Jesus did it. How do I do it?” You might be asking.


How You Can Too:

It’s easy — just drop hints.

One time, for my mother’s birthday, we did this scavenger hunt thing. She thought she was going out for a casual dinner with my wife Kathy and I. But as soon as we showed up, I handed her a piece of paper with a clue written on it. She followed the clue which took us to a destination where two of her grandkids were waiting to give her a gift. These two grandkids also gave her another clue, sending her to a second destination where two more unexpected grandkids were waiting with a gift, and another clue, sending her to another destination. This went on until the whole thing ended at her favorite restaurant where she enjoyed dinner with all of us. She was blown away! (If you’re interested you can see the “Incident Action Plan” for this birthday celebration at the end of the post)

It’s about the clues.

You see, to love people like Jesus did, you need to be a clue dropper. As you go through your week, you’re going to find opportunities for you to drop hints concerning Jesus’ identity. Opportunities will present themselves for you to share, briefly and simply, as Jesus did with Nathanael, about who Jesus is, or about Jesus’ love, or about His mercy, or His generosity. Look for moments when you can share clues about how He’s impacted your life. Keep an eye out for occasions when you can share about how He’s blessed you. You don’t have to launch into a long explanation, necessarily.

To love people like Jesus did, keep an eye out for these opportunities. Opportunities to share anything that will hint at who Jesus is.

An opportunity to share a clue about Jesus with people, is an opportunity to love people the way Jesus loved people.

It’s an opportunity to bless people.

And it’s an opportunity to be blessed, yourself.

Try it and see.


References:

Bible Gateway

Jon Courson

Birthday Scavenger Hunt

1:00 Synchronize watches

2:00
Meet at dad and mom’s/Uncle kurt and Aunt Kathy’s

Dad/Uncle kurt – Pick up G’ma Judy – 3:10 PM

3:20
Ashland Fire Station 1
Clue:  In the car to your son’s vocation
But instead of Medford, an Ashland Station
Gift: Karla’s gift

3:30
Food Co-op
Clue: Now to your favorite food store location
A shortened version of the word cooperation
Favorite People: Gabe & Charise
Gift: Juice Bar Coupon

3:40
Varsity Theatre
Clue: Don’t be late it’s time to go
We don’t want to miss your favorite show
Favorite People: Nate & Anastasia
Gift: Varsity Gift Certificate

3:50
Paddington Station Eclectic Emporium
Clue:  We’re not taking a train but going to a station
The name of which rhymes with Addington
Favorite People: Kody, Sophia, Hayden, Sienna
Gift:  Paddington Station Gift Certificate

4:00
Pangea Cafe
Clue:  Almost done with clues and maps
To your favorite place for Grills & Wraps
Favorite People: Kass, Miriam, Owen
Gift: Pangea Gift Certificate

4:10 PM
Pasta Piatti Restaurant
Clue: Off we go to your final destination
A restaurant who’s country is a boot shaped location
Favorite Person: Kathy
Gift: Dinner

God the Father over Friends brings Freedom: Genesis 37:1-4

peer pressure Christian

Joseph betrayed by his brothers.

After revisiting a summary of chapter 36 of Genesis, we’ll look at why Joseph shared the bad report of his brothers to his father, and how it speaks of Jesus.

Genesis chapter 36 was devoted to Esau’s descendants. Beginning in Genesis chapter 37 and on throughout the Old Testament we’re given an account of Jacob’s descendants. That’s quite a disparity. So why does Jacob get all the ink? Well Esau was a great man of worldly talents, but represents the flesh, that part of you, of me, of every person which desires my own way, that part which wants to live for me, that part which wants to live without interference from God. Jacob represents the Spirit, and while God acknowledges the flesh, He’s primarily interested in the things of the Spirit because those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.(Romans 8:8)


Genesis 37:1-4:

In the first four verses of Genesis 37 we see Jacob is still living in the land of Canaan, in the same area where his father Isaac lived.

Jacob’s son Joseph is seventeen now. One time, while tending the flocks with his brothers, he brought back a bad report about them to his father.

Israel (Jacob’s new name given to him by God in Genesis chapter 35) loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he was born to him in his old age. He made a special coat for Joseph. A coat that may have been distinguished by many colors, length of the hem, and size of the sleeves. When his brothers saw he was their father’s favorite, they envied him, to the point where they couldn’t speak a kind word to him.

At first glance we might think of Joseph as a sort of teacher’s pet and a snitch. But there could be another explanation. Keeping in mind Joseph is a picture of Jesus, I think it’s more likely he simply prioritized his relationship with his father above his brothers.

I think Joseph was about his father’s business, even as Jesus said to His earthly parents, “…I must be about my Father’s business.” (Luke 2:49 KJV)

Joseph simply desired to honor his father even as Jesus stated, in John 8:49, “…I honor my Father…”

Joseph strove to do what pleased his father. Even as Jesus, speaking of His Father, said, “…I always do what pleases him.” (John 8:29)

Joseph, like Jesus, was fiercely loyal and devoted to his father, and he had the spine and the spirit to back it up with his behavior, even at the expense of his reputation with his older brothers.

Like Joseph, Jesus was his Father’s favorite. When Jesus was transfigured, His Father said to Jesus’ disciples, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” By the way, When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. (Matthew 17:5-6)

And, Joseph’s coat and assignments given him by his father speak of his authority. Jesus too was given authority from His Father, for Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power… (John 13:3)

Finally, Joseph’s brothers envied him and hated him for his strong connection with his father, and the authority given him by his father, and the favor he enjoyed with his father, even as Jesus’ brothers envied Him and hated Him for precisely the same reasons.

What a powerful picture.

As Jesus said, the Old Testament scriptures “testify about me.” (John 5:39-40John 5:45-46)

Your Life:

So what does this have to do with how you live your life?

Well, let me tell you a story about a different Joseph. His last name is Tson and he’s from Romania.

While under arrest his Romanian interrogator threatened to kill him because he refused to stop teaching people about Jesus Christ. Joseph Tson responded to his interrogator, “Sir… Your supreme weapon is killiing. My supreme weapon is dying. …I will actually rejoice in this supreme victory if you kill me.” (see previous post: Pastor Offers to Die)

I think both Joseph of the Bible, and Joseph Tson, as well as Jesus’ behavior all speak of the type of love they had for their respective Fathers/father. The kind of love where they could care less what others might think of them. The kind of love where they were unafraid and unashamed of the opinions of others.

This type of love obviously pleases the Father.

I don’t know about you, but I can stand to learn from their example. I need to live a life more abandoned to God the Father. And I think I might find an intriguing dynamic will occur as a result.

An interesting thing happened to Joseph Tson after he offered his life to his interrogator. They became afraid they would create a martyr if they killed him. So they didn’t. Tson said, “I remembered how for many years, I had been afraid of dying. I had kept a low profile. Because I wanted badly to live, I had wasted my life in inactivity. But now that I had placed my life on the altar and decided I was ready to die for the gospel, they were telling me they would not kill me! I could go wherever I wanted in the country and preach whatever I wanted, knowing I was safe. As long as I tried to save my life, I was losing it. Now that I was willing to lose it, I found it.”

I think you and I often try to save our lives, our social lives. We often choose to give more weight, usually much more weight, to what our friends and family think, and not nearly enough consideration to what God the Father thinks. We live our lives afraid of dying, socially. We live our lives afraid of dying, of embarrassment.

I believe the Father wants us to live like Joseph lived, like Joseph Tson lived, and like Jesus lived. We need to live for God the Father without regard for the opinions of our friends, and brothers, and sisters, and others.

We need to live for Him.

And when we do, ultimately, we’ll find the same freedom the two Josephs and Jesus found.

There’s freedom to be found in abandoning yourself to God.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom…

Fear of man will prove to be a snare…

Proverbs 9:10, Proverbs 29:25



References:

Bible Gateway

Walton, Matthews, Chavalas, (2000) IVP Bible Background Commentary, Old Testament

Jon Courson

Image via Lawrence OP – Creative Commons

Jesus Christ and Criticism: How Jesus Responds to a Cynic

Love Like Jesus (photo credit http://whowillyouserve.blogspot.com)

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.

“Come and see,” said Philip.

When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”

“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.

Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”

Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”

Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.”

John 1:45-50



How Jesus Loved People:

Cynical! That’s Nathanael’s attitude toward the news, Philip had “found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote…”

“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael responded.

At the time, Nazareth didn’t have the best reputation as a city. It may be Nathanael’s cynicism and criticism was understandable. However, to Nathanael’s credit, though he has some tough questions, he decides to accept Philip’s invitation to “Come and see” for himself.

Nathanael’s decision had far greater impact than he realized at the time.

Imagine with me how different Nathanael’s life would have been, had he focused on what he perceived to be a flaw in Philip’s conclusion. Had he remained focused on his own critical perception of problems in the scriptures, rather than the opportunity to develop a relationship with the Messiah, Nathanael would have missed out on the most important three years of his life! His misplaced focus would have resulted in eternal consequences.

But Nathanael doesn’t do that. He’s cynical, yes, critical, sure, maybe even negative on Philip’s report about Jesus, but he moves toward Christ anyway.

And now, watch this. Watch how Jesus responds to Nathanael’s negativity.

“Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” He says enthusiastically as He sees Nathanael approaching.

“Behold, an Israelite…” The very first words out of Jesus’ mouth are words affirming Nathanael as an Israelite, as one of God’s chosen people.

“…in whom is no deceit!” (or guile as the King James Version renders it) This was a play on words by Jesus. He was referring back to Jacob. Jacob, who was renamed Israel by the Lord, was a man known for his guile and deceit. You may remember Jacob tricking his blind father Isaac out of his older brother’s blessing. One of a number of instances where Jacob used deceit and guile to get his way. So here we see Jesus, rather than defending Himself against Nathanael’s cynicism, using this play on words to emphasize Nathanael’s genuineness and honesty.

Nathanael, recognizing Jesus knew how he felt about a prophet coming from Nazareth, says, “How do you know me?”

“Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Jesus replies.

At which point Nathanael answers, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

And Jesus answers back, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” Jesus commends Nathanael for his faith.

How You Can Too:

You know, Jesus could have responded to Nathanael with a whopping come back.

“You obviously don’t know Who (with a capital W) you’re talking to, or, what you’re talking about. I wasn’t even born in Nazareth, I was born in Bethlehem, the precise place where God promised the Messiah would come from. Maybe you should get your facts straight before you pop off with a criticism. I was going to include you in a group of eleven people who will turn the world upside down, and influence the entire planet for eternity, but with that attitude, well you can just forget it!”

But that’s not what Jesus did. Instead He met Nathanael’s negativity and cynicism with grace and love. Jesus, rather than defending Himself, responds to Nathanael’s attitude by affirming his position as one of God’s chosen, by emphasizing his honesty, and by commending him for his faith.

Jesus took Nathanael’s negative and turned it around to a positive.

It’s so easy to respond to someone who has a negative attitude toward you, with defensiveness, or by returning the negative with a negative shot right back, or by ignoring the person. But if you want to love people the way Jesus did, always look for whatever positive you can find, there’s always something, and start there.

If you add value to people the way Jesus did, they’ll be attracted to you and to what you have to say. If you take value away from people, even if you’re well meaning, people will withdraw from you and what you have to say.

So…

Always, always, always start every single interpersonal interaction by finding and emphasizing the positive.

Even when it’s someone who’s on the attack.

Always.

Every time.

Without exception.

You’ll be blessed by their response.

They’ll be blessed when you share Christ.


References:

Bible Gateway

Craig S. Keener, (1993) IVP Bible Background Commentary, New Testament

H.A. Ironside, (2006) Expository Commentary, John

Jon Courson

Pat Summitt: The Day of Small Things

Pat Summitt (Photo credit: The Klown Times)

Young man: “Yeah but, why do I have to…?”

Old man: “If you can’t give your all with the little things, don’t expect bigger things.” (Lecrae on Twitter)

Pat Summitt retired today as the coach of the University of Tennessee women’s basketball team. She’ll go down in history as one of the greatest coaches of any sport of any gender. She’s won 8 National Championships and has taken her team to an equally ridiculous 22 final four appearances.

38 years ago Pat Summitt took the position of women’s basketball coach for 250 bucks a month. She had to drive the team bus herself. She even had to do the team laundry.

Do everything, even the small things, as unto the Lord. (Colossians 3:17)

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…”

Zechariah 4:10 (NLT)

References:

Bible Gateway

Lecrae on Twitter

L.A. Times

I Love God

God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength -1 Corinthians 1:25 (Photo credit: JulieMenken)

I Love God
by Mark Dachille

I love God – for me to even say something like that seems strange.  What could it possibly mean for me to love God.  Furthermore, I’m no stranger to being angry or even hating God.  I have unanswered questions about suffering and death.  This world hasn’t been nice to me, and I am a very “blessed” person.  When I hear about the suffering of my friends or contemplate the typical life for the poor of this world, where is God?
Today at lunch I was thinking about suffering and injustice.   In a short [lunch] break between the insanity of phone calls and anchor-bolts, steel plates, quick scribble calculations, I somehow found enough stillness to focus on some thoughts from the the 40th chapter of the book of Job.  I didn’t read much, but I read slowly.

Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm:   “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.   “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?



I thought, “woah, that’s right, I’d be silly to judge God”  The book of Job has a special place in my heart.  This world doesn’t always make sense to me.  But, I love being soft to God – a soft heart is a sort of humility that emanates with trust enough to say, “Ok, God, your ways instead of mine.”  Anyway, the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.  I’m also learning that Jesus is my wisdom, understanding, and my righteous.


I’m not sure how I can say, “I love God.”  But it might have something to do with the experience of my ability to say to God, “I want (to want) your ways instead of mine.”

Teens toss shopping cart onto woman from 50′ up. Victim Forgives.

“To be Christian means to forgive the inexcusable.”
-CSLewis

Two teens shove a shopping cart over a wall from an upper level, 50′ above an unsuspecting 47 year old woman. The cart lands on top of her, puts her in a coma, and blinds her in one eye.

And she forgives them!

I was both inspired and blown away by this article. Inspired by her ability to forgive and blown away by the realization that I sometimes struggle to forgive people for far more trivial transgressions.

You can read the whole story at Victim Forgives Teens Who Blinded Her – GOOD REPORT.

“I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”

-Jesus Christ, Matthew 5:44-45