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Monthly Archives: October 2018

Peter & John — Luke 9:28-36

Luke 9:28-36 NASB
[28] Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. [29] And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming. [30] And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah, [31] who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. [32] Now Peter and his companions had been overcome with sleep; but when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him. [33] And as these were leaving Him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles: one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah”-not realizing what he was saying. [34] While he was saying this, a cloud formed and began to overshadow them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. [35] Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” [36] And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent, and reported to no one in those days any of the things which they had seen.

Dear God, it seems like this telling of the transfiguration is a little more detailed than the others. I’d need to go back and check to see if the others do this, but I don’t remember the little details like eight days later and being afraid walking into the fog. I don’t even remember the part where they fell asleep and woke up to see everything happening.

It says that “they were afraid” about the cloud. Did that include Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, or was it Just Peter, James, and John? I would imagine at that point that Jesus, Moses and Elijah knew what was happening and were at peace.

I wonder if this felt like a dream to the three disciples. To wake up and see such an extraordinary sight. I’ve talked about Peter’s response before so I don’t know that I need to cover it again. It’s just an amazing thing that I’m convinced was meant to strengthen Jesus for the home stretch leading up to the crucifixion.

Father, give me what I need so that I can be strengthened to do your will. Give me courage. Give me strength. Give me love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, faithfulness, kindness, and self control. Let your fruit come to bear in my life.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

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Posted by on October 31, 2018 in Luke, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — Luke 9:18-21

Luke 9:18-21 NASB
[18] And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the people say that I am?” [19] They answered and said, “John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again.” [20] And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.” [21] But He warned them and instructed them not to tell this to anyone,

Dear God, it’s hard to really appreciate the lack of communication people had back then. People in 1860 had photographs of Abraham Lincoln so that if he had walked up to a group of people they’d have known who he was instantly. Of course, now I can search 80% of Americans and pull up a picture. But 2,000 years ago, all they had were stories and rumors. They heard about Jesus, but they weren’t sure what to make of him. But the disciples were privy to certain things that had happened with Jesus. And Peter, James, and John has actually seen more than the other nine.

I can’t imagine how impossible it was for them to process what they were seeing with any kind of perspective. Obviously, Jesus was introducing a whole new paradigm to them. I wonder how many of the rest of the 12, or even those outside of this group, had come to the same conclusion Peter had, but they just couldn’t bring themselves to say it out loud.

Father, I get really lost in my world sometimes. Speak to me and help me to hear you. Help me to boldly lean into you and fully embrace the life your leading me through. Help me to let go of myself and serve others. And help me to be willing to appear foolish in the name of truth.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2018 in Luke, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — Luke 8:51-56

Luke 8:51-56 NASB
[51] When He came to the house, He did not allow anyone to enter with Him, except Peter and John and James, and the girl’s father and mother. [52] Now they were all weeping and lamenting for her; but He said, “Stop weeping, for she has not died, but is asleep.” [53] And they began laughing at Him, knowing that she had died. [54] He, however, took her by the hand and called, saying, “Child, arise!” [55] And her spirit returned, and she got up immediately; and He gave orders for something to be given her to eat. [56] Her parents were amazed; but He instructed them to tell no one what had happened.

Dear God, it seems that Jesus was really trying to keep the extent of his power under wraps, but there were a few people in on the secret and that included James, John, and Peter. Peter was such a leader that it becomes obvious why he was in the loop, but through Matthew, Mark, and now into Luke we aren’t really given enough about John to show why he was in the loop. He and James had a relationship with Peter before all of this started. Perhaps Jesus was bringing them along because he knew Peter’s weaknesses and he thought Peter would need James and John later.

Of course, all of this is wild guesses and I could be totally wrong, but the idea of needing complementary partners is certainly a thought worth pursuing. None of us can do our work alone. None of us are an island. For me, it starts with my wife. She definitely complements me and fills in where I am weak. And I believe I fill the same role in her life. Then at work I need others. I’m starting to get a feel for how to trust different members of the staff to handle certain aspects of the clinic better than I handle them. And then there are times when they need me to help in a way where they are not as strong. We for a solid team.

Father, as I look at the other areas of my life including church and personal service, help me to seek out those who will make me better. And help me to come alongside others and complement them in their lives as well, whether they be family members, friends or strangers who need what I have to offer. And for all of this, take it and do it for your glory. Don’t let anything I do be outside of your will for me.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2018 in Luke, Peter and John

 

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Getting My Head in the Right Place

No verse.

Dear God, in three hours from now I’ll be preaching. I’ve spent the week looking at the scriptures I believe you’ve led me to. I’ve prayed. I’ve prepared. Now, I just need to get myself as much into your presence as I can. Everything is nothing without the Holy Spirit guiding each word I say and action I take.

If one takes it seriously, there’s a lot of pressure when you get up in front of a church and give the weekly sermon. The most pressure I’ve ever felt is speaking at someone’s funeral because this is the one time that the family gets to bury and formally memorialize their loved one. I’ve officiated two funerals and I felt a tremendous pressure for both. But preaching on Sunday is a close second. Why? Well, this is an opportunity for you to speak to your church, and this week they chose me to be your conduit.

I think my first priority is to not preach heresy. This is a little tricky because I am not a trained theologian. I don’t know all of the Greek and Hebrew to go back and dig into the etymology of every word myself. I rely on the translators of the NIV, NLT, and NASB to get me to the meaning of the text. But beyond that, I could take the passages today and make them say what I want to say. For example, the main passage today is the Books of Job. If I wanted to, I could easily go Prosperity Gospel with it and point out to people that when Job finally figured out the lesson you had for him he got rich again. But I don’t personally believe that is the message you have for us. Then again, perhaps my own biases are getting in the way of what you are saying and perhaps you are saying that. See what I mean? Preaching heresy is very easy to do because I am tainted by my own experiences, the things I’ve been taught during the course of my life, and the biases I have.

The other thing is to not make this a waste of their time. The people in that room made a decision, for whatever reason, to get up this morning, get dressed, and come to worship you. This effort should be rewarded with a touch from you. One time after I preached this summer, a man came up to me and said, “I feel like I’ve been to church today.” I felt so relieved!

Finally, I have to tune into you enough to say the words you want them to hear. I have to be your conduit. No glory for me (which I love it when there is glory for me), but only glory for you. No honor for me, but only honor for you. No love for me, but only love for you. I must decrease so that you can increase. Help me to decrease this morning.

Father, grant me your presence. Love through me. Help me to be completely selfless. Help me to learn the lessons of the sermon you have helped me to prepare. I submit myself to the Holy Spirit as much as I am capable. Holy Spirit, please flow through that church today. Flow through each heart. And if this sermon is only for one person in the room, give that person ears to hear–all for your glory, honor, and praise.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2018 in Miscellaneous

 

The 6 Stages of Faith – Learning from Job

  1. Intuitive – Projective Faith: Associated with the child’s faith, based upon fantasy and imagination.
  2. Mythical-Literal Faith: The family faith of the early school years, which is sustained by moral rules and either/or thinking.
  3. Synthetic-Conventional Faith: Adolescent phase that conforms to the tradition of the community and creates the “kind” of person of faith it models or rejects.
  4. Individuative-Reflective Faith: The faith of the young adult who is capable of critical thinking, independent reflection, and comparative reasoning.
  5. Conjunctive Faith: A mid-life and old-age faith that integrates self-identity with a comprehensive world view to see the order, coherence, and meaning of life in order to serve and be served.
  6. Universalizing Faith: The rare faith of the world citizen who incarnates a transcendent vision into a disciplined, active, and self-giving life.

(source: James W. Fowler, The Stages of Faith (New York: Harper and Row, 1976), chap. 14.)

Dear God, some time back, I was trying to journal through the book of Job and I was lost. So many people were talking, and some of them seemed to be making good sense. Then I’d read on a little and see that they were wrong. I finally gave up, but it became a bit of a white whale for me. I was going through a personal struggle unlike anything I had known before, and I wanted to learn was you had to teach me through Job’s story.

I remembered that I have a complete set of biblical commentaries that was done by Word back in the 80s. The Old Testament commentaries are called Mastering the Old Testament, and Lloyd Ogilvie was the general editor for all of them (he is a Presbyterian pastor who was chaplain for the U.S. Senate at one point). The commentary for Job was written by David L. McKenna (there’s a bio of him on the Asbury Theological Seminary website here), who was president of Asbury Theological Seminary at the time he wrote it. I think the most useful part of the commentary for me was the Introduction. That’s where I found a reference that McKenna made to Fowler’s Six Stages of Faith. I wrote them down in my notes, and they stuck with me.

So now I’m at a point where I’m going to be preaching about this tomorrow and I want to make sure that 1.) I’m getting this theologically correct 2.) I am giving these people (and myself) the truth you want us to know.

One of the big dangers for tomorrow is to try to answer the why question. Why did God take away my loved one? Why does God allow bad things to happen? I’m not even totally sure that Job gets at the whole truth of this. I don’t think the author was a witness to God and Satan conversing so I don’t want to push the idea one way or another that God set Satan loose on Job. But he or she did want to communicate the fallacy that our blaming God for the bad things that happen is foolishness. As Rich Mullins once said, “We all have it better than we deserve.”

When you look at Job, chapter 38 just scares the heck out of me. It’s when all of my theology and philosophy burns up and I am face to face with you, hearing your words for me. It is easy to sit here and pontificate in my own wisdom and try to lift up my complaints about my life, but to hear you say to me, “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations? Tell me if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?…” It goes on and on for four chapters.

Job has a short reply in chapter 40, but his real reply is in chapter 42: “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears have heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

Satan’s thesis in Job 1 is, God, “stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” Job, in his limited knowledge of you is ultimately driven to that place of bitterness and desperation, but then he comes face with you in chapters 38-42 and he realizes just how small and foolish he is. His faith goes to the ultimate level of seeing a world bigger than himself and deciding that your role for him is to simply serve in whatever way you call him to serve, without complaint.

Father, I want to ask you to teach me this lesson, but I’m afraid to. I know you love me, but the truth is, I’m afraid of you. If a prophet knocked on my door right now (a real, verifiable prophet), I would be terrified of what you might have to tell me. I’m sorry for how I’ve complained. I’m sorry for how I’ve doubted. I’m sorry for my selfishness and my lethargy. Help me to see what you see and know what you want me to know.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2018 in Job

 

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Matthew 5:43-48

Matthew 5:43-48 NIV
[43] “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ [44] But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, [45] that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. [46] If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? [47] And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? [48] Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Dear God, I chose this passage because of the part in the middle about the sun rising and the rain falling on the righteous and the unrighteous. I forgot that that verse is right in the middle of all of this stuff about loving my enemies.

In this case, I think Jesus is referring to rain and sun as both good things that God gives to everyone, no matter how good or evil. What I’m taking from this is that we are all in this together, and beyond the fact that we share the earth together is the idea that my enemy is still your child and at the most basic level, I need to, at a minimum, be praying that they have a relationship that is as close to you as possible. If I think they are evil, then that is one type of prayer. But if they are a seemingly good person with whom I have simply become at odds then that is another type of prayer. And I might have a direct role to play in that person’s life, but if I allow the darkness of bitterness and hate to consume me then I am no good to them, to myself, or to you.

Father, make me an instrument of your peace. It is in pardoning that I am pardoned. Help me to care more about my enemy’s well-being and submit my own ego and demands for my rights to your will.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2018 in Matthew

 

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Acts 20:24

Acts 20:24 NIV
[24] However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

Dear God, I first read this verse 31 years ago. It was fall of my senior year in high school. I had committed myself to learning more scripture, and, although I don’t remember how I found this passage, this was one of the first ones I memorized. I should note that the project didn’t live much past this and scripture memory is not one of my strong suits.

I wish I could say I have lived this verse out more. I guess I have to some extent. I’ve been willing to make some sacrifices based on what I feel like you are calling me to do. I think I’ve also been able to use it to shun prosperity Gospel preaching and even the kind of “God’s gonna getcha” preaching that some pastors do. Why is there suffering in the world? How can people do such evil things? If I’m suffering, does that mean I’ve lost your favor? Well, this sentiment from Paul reminds me that I shouldn’t ask these questions from the perspective of my own welfare or the welfare around me. I need to ask myself, what task has Jesus given me?

Father, my first task is to testify about you, your love, your grace, and your call to repentance. My second task is to respond to what you have for me to do. Today, I am going to meet my new mentee for the first time. Help me to do that in your strength and power. Tomorrow, I’ll be talking to the ministerial association about early childhood development and therapeutic nursery for traumatized children. I also have a board meeting this morning when I will have an opportunity to inspire them and help give them a sense of your calling to them as board members. So I consider my life worth nothing to me. I only want to finish the race and complete the tasks you have given me—even if it costs me everything.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2018 in Acts

 

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