Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Can't See the Savior for the Saved

Sporting events and concerts aren't the only time crowds can become an issue.

Mark 2:1-4 (NIV)

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. (To read the rest of the story, click here.)

From my journal, November 21, 2000

Today, what strikes me about this story are the crowds of people who wanted to see Jesus, who wanted to hear Jesus  -  people who, for the most part, really thought Jesus was special  -  it is this crowd of people who are blamed by Mark as being the reason the crippled man's friends couldn't get the guy to Jesus.

Lord, are there times when we exclude...when the church is so intent on peripherals...that we actually make it harder for people to come to know You?


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Truth is...and it's a sad truth...whether it's a concentration on showmanship during "worship" or selfishness during the week, sometimes the biggest hindrances to seekers becoming believers are the people who already believe. Or, as C. S. Lewis put it: "When we Christians behave badly, or fail to behave well, we are making Christianity unbelievable to the outside world."

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Dancing in the Streets of Innocence

An earlier post that included the Margaret Becker song, Who Am I, reminded me of another work of hers that the whole world needs to rediscover.

Innocence, innocence

In innocence, in innocence

Tonight I'll sleep like a baby

On the bed of no regrets
Well listen, you, you can have your money
Now you, you can keep your pride
I don't need nothing
'Cause I'll be living rich tonight
In innocence, in innocence

Tonight I will count my blessings

Contemplate the treasure of the meek
Like the peace that passes understanding
The joy that keeps my soul
Well I, I am planning
On taking home the holy gold of
Innocence, of innocence

Resistance, resistance

I turn the other cheek
Well, there's no freedom like the freedom 
Dancing in the streets of

Resistance, resistance
I turn the other cheek, well
Freedom, freedom you will find me
Dancing in the streets of
Innocence, of innocence

Truth is...because Jesus has wiped out everything that stood between me and my maker, I have every reason in the world to sleep well, consider myself wealthy beyond belief, forgive others......and dance with joy like no one's watching.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Take My Mother-in-Law...Please

Jesus never had a mother-in-law of his own, yet he still had to deal with one...Peter's (Simon's).

Mark 1:29-31 (NIV):

As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

From my journal, November 17, 2000:

The first response of Peter's mother-in-law when Jesus healed her: service. She fixed dinner for them. In the same way, may I daily renew my sense of wonder at the love God expresses to me, and live out of a grateful heart.

Truth is...we don't do good things so Jesus will love us, but out of gratitude because He loves us.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Old MacDonald Spoke of Forgiveness

...E, I, E, I, O...

But seriously, George MacDonald (1824-1905) was not only a literary inspiration for the likes of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein, but a Scottish preacher who also published three volumes of Unspoken Sermons...from which comes the following words about one of my favorite topics, forgiveness.

I do not know that it is of much use to go back to the Greek or the English word -- It will be enough if we look at the feelings associated with the exercise of what is called forgiveness.

A man will say: "I forgive, but I cannot forget. Let the fellow never come in my sight again." To what does such a forgiveness reach? To the remission or sending away of the penalties which the wronged believes he can claim from the wrong-doer.

But there is no sending away of the wrong itself from between them.

Again, a man will say: "He has done a very mean action, but he has the worst of it himself in that he is capable of doing so. I despise him too much to desire revenge. I will take no notice of it. I forgive him. I don't care."

Here, again, there is no sending away of the wrong from between them-- no remission of the sin.

A third will say: "I suppose I must forgive him; for if I do not forgive him, God will not forgive me."

This man is a little nearer the truth, inasmuch as a ground of sympathy, though only that of common sin, is recognized as between the offender and himself.

One more will say: "He has wronged me grievously. It is a dreadful thing to me, and more dreadful still to him, that he should have done it. He has hurt me, but he has nearly killed himself. He shall have no more injury from it that I can save him. I cannot feel the same towards him yet; but I will try to make him acknowledge the wrong he has done me, and so put it away from him. Then, perhaps, I shall be able to feel towards him as I used to feel. For this end I will show him all the kindness I can, not forcing it upon him, but seizing every fit opportunity; not, I hope, from a wish to make myself great through bounty to him, but because I love him so much that I want to love him more in reconciling him to his true self. I would destroy this evil deed that has come between us. I send it away. And I would have him destroy it from between us too, by abjuring it utterly."

Which comes nearest to the divine idea of forgiveness?

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Truth is...we all know the answer to that question. May we love people enough to truly forgive them; restoring the relationship between us and the people who wrong us, and between the people who wrong us and God.