Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Ponds

Going 65 on my way home from my brother’s after the Red Sox satisfying shellacking of the Yankees last Monday I hit one of the ponds that are common on San Antonio roads when it’s raining. I did a 360 and came to rest 100 yards short of who I take to be the pond’s previous victim, wobbling about the margin in the vicinity of his vehicle. I neither hit nor was I hit by anything.
               Less than 16 hours later, driving to work in the opposite direction, in approximately the same place under approximately the same conditions, traffic crept past an accident scene that included the remains of three mangled vehicles strewn across the highway, one a pickup with its cab clean off.

               Life can change in an instant; our lives hang by a thread. Pack your moments with all the love they’ll hold; it’s the only baggage that won’t be jettisoned when things begin to spin out of control.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Good Company 3

This Splendid Life can, indeed should, be yours!:

“Yet I am always with you [Abba; father];
    You hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with Your counsel,
    and afterward You will take me into glory.
 Whom have I in heaven but You?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but You are the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever . . .
As for me, my unity with You is my good.
    I have made You my refuge;
    I will tell of all Your deeds.” Psalm 73:23-28

Unite your life to the life of Yeshua* the Messiah, through faith, and your life will become a romance!

*Jesus’ name in Hebrew. This is what his dad would have called him; sounds just like the Hebrew word for salvation. The angel said to Joseph, “You are to give him the name [Yeshua] because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)



Monday, October 08, 2018

Good Company 2

Imagine how you'd feel if you got to spend every day in the company of the one person you loved most, a person who loved you completely, with their whole heart, and would do anything for you. Imagine that you two worked together, ate together, played together, slept together, and that over time your love for each other grew and grew, as you came to know better the depth and beauty of their soul, and understand the complexity and simplicity of their love for you. Knowing silence would probably prevail between you, most of the time. Few words would need to be spoken. You two would communicate in ways far too subtle for words. Your love for each other would give you understanding of all your other relationships, and would illuminate them. 

Wouldn't that be a splendid life, even if you two faced tremendous challenges or even suffered great hardship together? Or would it be splendid precisely because of the difficulties you faced, hand in hand?

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Good Company

Imagine how you'd feel today if you got to spend the entire day with the one person in the world who you love most, a person who loves you completely, with their whole heart, and would do anything for you.

Wouldn't that be a splendid day, no matter what you two needed to do together?

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Nothing can stop You

God has not given us a Spirit of timidity or fear, but of power and love and sound judgment.[1] That’s really great news, but it’s a lot better than we might
tend to think. It’s not just any old spirit of power and love and sound judgment God has given us. It’s not like a pretty flower arrangement, to brighten our day. The Spirit God has given us is His Own Holy Spirit! It’s the Spirit of the Living God that is at work in you – if you have united your life to the life of Yeshua the Messiah through faith – both to will and to act according to His good pleasure.[2] It’s not a spark, like the sparks inside the engine of that little Nissan pickup I used to drive. You don’t have a “divine spark” in you. You’ve got a nuclear bomb in a paper bag. When you get a hold of this, you see it’s not a little something to encourage you, to jump-start your day. When you see this for what it is, you realize your job is to rein this bad dog in. Like Richard the New Yorker transplanted to Seattle: “I put out 75% less energy and people still back away,” he told me. Power wants to roar out of you[3] like a mighty river. You better be careful, or you’ll be healing everyone you touch! You’re gonna be like Moses, when he came down from Mount Sinai, after meeting there with God face to face. His face was so radiant he had to cover it, because everyone was afraid to look at him.[4] Though even that doesn’t really compare, because even Moses wasn’t united to Christ, the way you are, if you’re a Christian. You and God are United![5] Nothing can stop You.[6]



[1] 2 Timothy 1:7
[2] Philippians 2:13
[3] Luke 8:46
[4] Exodus 34:29-35
[5] John 17:21-23
[6] Isaiah 14:27

Monday, April 09, 2018

"Come and have breakfast."



Joy Tabernacle
2501 N. Chevrolet Ave.
Flint, Michigan  48504
Sunday School
April 8, 2018

Appearance of the Risen Lord
Lesson: John 21:1-14

This morning in Sunday School we didn’t get to talk about my favorite part of our text!

We talked about Jesus’ tender, playful reintroduction of Himself after His resurrection to His disciples and especially to Peter, who after all his boasting about how he was ready to die alongside the One he himself had recognized first as the anointed Son of the living God, had completely failed the test! Despondent, probably wondering whether the mess he’d made could ever be cleaned up, Peter decided to go fishing (v. 3).

Whether it’s fishing, or biking, or walking, or working with your hands, or going off by yourself to pray, the way Jesus did, we agreed it’s good strategy to have a way to process things when difficulties come and problems need to be worked out.

In a gesture of loving solidarity, knowing however badly they felt, Peter must have felt much worse, his friends went fishing with him.

Jesus wanted to lovingly reinstate Peter and relaunch the ministry that was now destined to become greater than any of them could have imagined. Because He did not have Facebook, Jesus could not post a message saying, “You and Jesus have been friends on Facebook for three years,” with a video of their first encounter in Luke 5, back when He first told them they were going to be “fishers of men.” So He had to reenact the whole affair!

“You guys got any fish,” Jesus asks (v.5), playfully reminding them of just how much they were capable of apart from Him (John 15:5), much as He did with you and me when He first called us: “Say, Jord,” He queried, “how’s that ‘doing things on your own’ thing working out for you? You getting a lot of mileage out of ‘taking control of your own life,’ are you?”

Out of control as usual, Peter dives overboard as soon as he realizes it’s Jesus (v. 7). We agreed if Peter had been from Flint he would have been dead or in prison long before this. And yet, Jesus turned him into one of the great leaders of the church! Jesus’ message in this to you and me is, “Jord, you may be crazy, but I worked with Peter, and you ain’t as crazy as Peter! I can work with you, too.”

And then the big finish, those tender words spoken by your Friend and Savior, Who from the very beginning of time has enjoyed nothing more than spending time with the likes of you and me (Proverbs 8:30-31). This is what it’s going to be like in Glory: you’ll wake up, to the smell of bacon and coffee, in your new body. All the men will be built like LeBron James, but those who are first will be last, so LeBron himself will have to get a job delivering mail, because those of us who don’t start for the Pistons will start for the Cavaliers. We’ll lightly spring up to get the blood circulating and gently brush the ceiling of the mansion Jesus has prepared for us (John 14:2-3) with the tops of our heads. 

Down in the kitchen, Godfrey will ask, “Jesus, will You give me a hand with these eggs?”

“Bro, I only do fish and bread.” Then He’ll go to the bottom of the stairs and holler up, “Hey, Aaron, just because it’s Heaven don’t mean you can sleep all day! Come and have breakfast!” (v. 12)

Monday, February 19, 2018

Reflections on Presidents Day



     It’s impossible for me to generate much enthusiasm for our presidents this year, having learned from writers like Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me) and Randall Robinson (The Debt) how many of them have contributed to the plundering of African Americans (a story I’m embarrassed to have not learned long ago), but when it comes to certain groups being excluded from the full protections and benefits of citizenship it seems to me the really colossal failure lies with the church. Unbelievers are only being true to their creed when they win at all costs, when they step on other people to get to the top. They don’t expect Anyone to provide for them. For them, it’s every person for themselves. The church claims to be different, but where is the evidence? Western Christians simply amass wealth against the uncertainties of the future, living a life of fear, just like everyone else. The first thing we ought to do is take some of that wealth and buy groceries, and begin having dinner with the downtrodden and the marginalized. I don’t mean serving them dinner! That only maintains the clear delineation between the haves and the have-nots, makes the haves feel better and deepens the resignation of the have-nots. I mean sitting down with them, looking them in the eye and listening to their stories. When I have dinner with you and learn your name and the names of your children and what they’re studying in school, your welfare ceases to be a matter of indifference to me. I become aware of what has been true all along: you cannot suffer without me also suffering; you cannot benefit without me also benefiting. My well-being is integrally connected to yours. What marginalized people need is not money or food, it’s exactly the same thing all of us need to confront the exigencies of life: the personal resources – like courage, support and opportunity – that come from friendships with people who are integrated into the community. This is the work of the church!*
     I worked 3rd shift last Saturday at Carriage Town Ministries, an emergency shelter, so I was there when the men got up. At breakfast a resident said the 2nd-best thing anyone’s ever said to me:** “I love me again,” he proclaimed. “You guys have shown me the light.” I exalted. That’s the goal: to show people their reflection in light of God’s word, their reflection as the image and the beloved of God. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people (You’re chosen if you’ll just hearken unto the Shepherd’s voice (John 10:3)), holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12).

      *This is what Serve the City has been doing in Lisbon, Portugal, and other European cities, since 2010. The City of Lisbon said years ago that it changed the way they deal with homeless people. (Video)

     **The best thing anyone’s ever said to me wasn’t actually said to me, it was said to my son-in-law when I happened to be over at his house: My daughter was modelling for him a new blouse she had bought for herself, wanting his opinion. “Did you show your father? What does he think?” he asked.
     “He’s my daddy,” she explained, in a tone indicating there was no sense asking. “He thinks I’m beautiful."
     Exactly.