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Monthly Archives: November 2018

Peter & John — John 21:18-24

John 21:18-24 NIV
[18] Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” [19] Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” [20] Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) [21] When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” [22] Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” [23] Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” [24] This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.

Dear God, I read something interesting yesterday by Eugene Peterson in his book Run With The Horses: The Quest For Life At Its Best:

Scripture, however, doesn’t play that game. Something very different takes place in the life of faith: each person discovers all the elements of a unique and original adventure. We are prevented from following in another’s footsteps and are called to an incomparable association with Christ. The Bible makes it clear that every time that there is a story of faith, it is completely original.

This passage calls this to mind. We want to compare ourselves with others to see how we measure up. If we perceive they are living worse than us then we feel better about ourselves. If we think their lives are better than ours then we feel worse. The common denominator is that it’s about us and our expectations for how good our lives should be.

What I think Jesus is trying to teach Peter, John, and even us today through this conversation is that we need to stop trying to use the lives of others to benchmark our own. Sure, we can use others as inspiration and encouragement, but our eyes need to be on the path you have for us and the race you have for us to walk. Oh, how I hope I’m getting mine right in your eyes and accomplishing what you need to accomplish through me.

Father, thank you for the comfort that you do give me. Thank you for your love. Help me to be at peace with my life and to make my decisions based on your still small voice and counsel through the Holy Spirit. I have some decisions to make even today—some big ones. Help me to be wise.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2018 in John, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — John 21:12-17

John 21:12-17 NASB
[12] Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples ventured to question Him, “Who are You?” knowing that it was the Lord. [13] Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and the fish likewise. [14] This is now the third time that Jesus was manifested to the disciples, after He was raised from the dead. [15] So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” [16] He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” [17] He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.

Dear God, the thing that we lose when reading something versus hearing it is tone of voice. The thing we lose by not seeing it is body language. I feel like these passages have suffered from that loss. I’d love to hear Jesus’ and Peter’s voices during this exchange. I’d love to see Jesus’ facial expressions and body language. I wonder what John saw and heard in that moment.

I heard a long time ago something I’ve never verified for myself. Someone once told me that Jesus keeps asking Peter if he “agape” loves Him and Peter answer that he “phileo” loves Jesus. I suppose I should look that up one day. It’s never really made sense to me that in that moment Peter wouldn’t come back to Jesus with the same type of love he was requesting.

Either way, by the end of this conversation it seems that Peter is not only restored from the denying three times story, but he is completely set up to lead the new church. Basically, he has his head back on straight again. Grace has freed him.

I heard about a friend yesterday who made a mistake and I have a feeling they are walking around with a lot of guilt. Now I can see that friend acting out and in a funk, and I have a feeling that what is truly needed right now is freedom from that mistake and others that this friend has made.

Father, my wife and I are doing something today to support. Friend that puts us out of our comfort zone. Please help us to do it well. Help us to be ministers of your grace and peace. Give us wisdom and discernment at any given moment, and even be with us while we drive alone. Strengthen us through each other. Let your Holy Spirit be in the car with us and counsel us so that we might really do the right things by the people around us.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2018 in John, Peter and John

 

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John 21:1-11

John 21:1-11 NASB
[1] After these things Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and He manifested Himself in this way. [2] Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. [3] Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will also come with you.” They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing. [4] But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. [5] So Jesus said to them, “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?” They answered Him, “No.” [6] And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.” So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish. [7] Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea. [8] But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish. [9] So when they got out on the land, they saw a charcoal fire already laid and fish placed on it, and bread. [10] Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have now caught.” [11] Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.

Dear God, it’s hard sometimes to read these stories with new, fresh eyes when they are stories I’ve read so many times before and about which I’ve already had some strong opinions. In this case, this is a great Peter story that gives us a pretty good looking into his emotional state and his impulsiveness.

I love the simple line, “I’m going fishing.” Back to the roots. I wonder how long it had been since he had been fishing. I wonder whose boat they used. They were back at the Sea of Galilee. Perhaps they used John’s and James’ dad’s boats. Maybe they fished on and off again over the years. There’s so much we don’t know. But we do know that These five guys were together and Peter finally decided to go and fish and maybe even make a little money. The other four followed him.

Then, to add insult to injury, they didn’t catch anything. Peter’s sense of being lost and depressed after having denied Jesus is now being piled upon with fruitless work. And then Jesus shows up.

I guess I am seeing something new here. It’s from Jesus. If I were mapping this out, I would think that Jesus came back from the dead and then had a strategy session with the disciples before he ascended. His seemingly infrequent appearances are interesting and now what I would expect. I guess he was teaching them some lessons about independent thinking and getting along without himself. I’m sure their conversations while he wasn’t around were full of “What do we do next?” questions.

Father, I guess that’s how you still work with us today. In a lot of ways, we are left to struggle through and depend upon our own intelligence, intuition and experience to solve problems or make choices, all the while seeking your wisdom and discernment. I know that’s how I feel right now. We are doing strategic planning at work and we are working hard to discern your will while trying to layer our collective contributions we bring to the table. My wife and I are doing the same thing with some challenges we are facing. I have to say, It’d be nice if you’d just hire a sky writer and tell us what to do, but this is also a good process. So thank you for the struggle. Thank you for your love. Please speak to all of us as we wrestle through these challenges.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2018 in John, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — John 20:1-10

John 20:1-10 NASB
[1] Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. [2] So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” [3] So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. [4] The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; [5] and stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. [6] And so Simon Peter also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he saw the linen wrappings lying there, [7] and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. [8] So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb then also entered, and he saw and believed. [9] For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. [10] So the disciples went away again to their own homes.

Dear God, several years ago I noticed something interesting about this story. In fact, this is one of the reasons I wanted to compare and contrast John and Peter. John outruns Peter there (what does it say about his state of mind that he would either intentionally or unintentionally outrun Peter), but then he cautiously stops and doesn’t go in, but only looks at a distance.

On the other hand, Peter isn’t as fast as John, but he’s certainly more bold. He gets there last, but goes straight in. John then follows Peter.

As I sit here and think about it this morning, this is the first activity of the new Christian church’s leadership post-resurrection, and in it I think Peter shows why his personality allows him to be the leader. He is, indeed, courageous. He is also a little less cautious, which can be a problem. In the case of how things will play out, I think John will need that part of Peter’s personality to move him out of his comfort zone, but Peter will need people like John to help him see the big picture before acting.

Father, help me to be the person you want me to be to accomplish what you have for our group to accomplish. It’s board meeting week. I bring a certain set of weaknesses and strengths to the table as does everyone else. As we talk and discuss everything before us, my prayer is that we will be able to accept the work and input of the others that you need us to have so that we can be as effective in our work as possible. And of course, do it all for your glory and not ours.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2018 in John, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — John 19:25-27

John 19:25-27
25 Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” 27 And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home.

 

Dear God, for the purposes of what I’m doing here, I am going to assume that John is referring to himself in verse 26 when he mentions “the disciple he loved.” I wonder what it was about John that made Jesus decide to do this. Was it his dependability? Was it that he knew John would be the last of the disciples to die so he’d be around longer? Or was it simply that he was the one who was there? Of course, we don’t know that none of the other disciples weren’t there. We’ve assumed, but we don’t know that.

I’m guessing it was a combination of trusting John and his availability at the time. But I wonder why Jesus didn’t assume that his siblings would take care of her. I know that it is vague about whether or not Jesus’ siblings were from a previous marriage for Joseph and Mary had no other children besides Jesus. I’ve never subscribed to that belief, but this story would seem to support that theory. On the other hand, perhaps Mary had been following Jesus and his siblings just didn’t understand or know how to relate to everything they were seeing. They didn’t know what to make of Mary, Jesus, or the disciples. James (Jesus’ brother, not John’s) finally figured it out, but I don’t think we know about any others. John was probably his best option and as he hung there dying, he needed John’s help for his mother.

I suppose there is something to be said for just showing up. John was there. We don’t know how close he was able to stay all day, but he seems to have some good information about things that were said and done throughout the day so I think he was certainly lurking in the shadows, if nothing else. But there he is, the temperamental disciple, now pensively and fearfully following Jesus to the cross. There is no asking if he should call down fire on the church leaders. He’s not rebuking people. He’s just there, being traumatized and watching his world change before him in ways that he cannot begin to understand. Again, though, to his credit, he’s right there and in a position to hear Jesus for what John thinks will be for the last time.

Father, I don’t know what I have to offer, but I at least offer you my presence. I give you my submission to your will—as best as I know how. I give you my ego—as much as I am capable. I give you my dreams that focus on my own comfort, reward, and enjoyment. And I give you my willingness to embrace the task that you have given me to do. The task of testifying to the Gospel of your grace.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2018 in John, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — John 18:17-18,25-27

John 18:17-18,25-27 NASB
[17] Then the slave-girl who kept the door said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” [18] Now the slaves and the officers were standing there, having made a charcoal fire, for it was cold and they were warming themselves; and Peter was also with them, standing and warming himself. [25] Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You are not also one of His disciples, are you?” He denied it, and said, “I am not.” [26] One of the slaves of the high priest, being a relative of the one whose ear Peter cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” [27] Peter then denied it again, and immediately a rooster crowed.

Dear God, John chooses to tell this story much more mercifully and matter-of-factly than the others. He leaves out Peter’s shame, although later, along the water after the resurrection, he will capture the restoration.

The thing I notice about John throughout this book is that he seems to empathize with people. He has mercy for them. I concluded several year ago that he has mercy and sympathy for Pilate. In this case, he was as scared as Peter was and would probably have denied Jesus too if anyone had bothered to ask him. He feels for Peter.

How is my mercy level for other people? I hope it’s at least getting better. The hardest part is when they have offended me. How do I look beyond my own feelings and ego and try to see where that person might be coming from and then extend grace to them while also seeing if I can help them?

As I sit here, I can think of countless times I have not done this well—especially with family. It’s frustrating. And the times I have done it right, my eyes have seen no benefit from it. It seems like the other person often takes advantage of my mercy and tries to use it as an opportunity to abuse me more.

Father, thank you for John’s example of mercy and discretion. Thank you that he was able to look at the failings of others and at least appreciate where they were coming from. Give me that ability today. I have certain situations in my heart. Please give me peace and wisdom to deal with them beyond my natural capabilities.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2018 in John, Peter and John

 

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“Where The Streets Have No Name” by U2

“Where the Streets Have No Name”
U2

I want to run, I want to hide
I want to tear down the walls that hold me inside
I wanna reach out and touch the flame
Where the streets have no name
I want to feel sunlight on my face
I see that dust cloud disappear without a trace
I wanna take shelter from the poison rain

Where the streets have no name, oh oh
Where the streets have no name
Where the streets have no name
We’re still building then burning down love
Burning down love
And when I go there, I go there with you
It’s all I can do

The city’s a flood
And our love turns to rust
We’re beaten and blown by the wind
Trampled into dust
I’ll show you a place
High on the desert plain

Where the streets have no name, oh oh
Where the streets have no name
Where the streets have no name
We’re still building then burning down love
Burning down love
And when I go there, I go there with you
It’s all I can do

Our love turns to rust
We’re beaten and blown by the wind
Blown by the wind
Oh and I see love
See our love turn to rust

We’re beaten and blown by the wind
Blown by the wind
Oh when I go there
I go there with you
It’s all I can do

Dear God, I woke up yesterday, Thanksgiving morning, and came across a video of an interview with Eugene Peterson (translator of The Message version of the Bible among other things) and Bono (lead singer for U2). They were talking about the impact and importance of the Psalms on their lives. Somehow, and I can’t remember the train of thought that got me there–perhaps it was mentioned in the interview–this song came up and I wanted to spend some time with it and you this morning.

This has always been one of my favorite U2 songs, if not my favorite. Sure, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” “God–Part 2,” and “In the Name of Love” are classics that are great, but I think it’s the guitar riff that starts the song that draws me in. Football teams should storm the field to it. It’s just this great little inspiring thing. But I have to confess that I’ve never had any idea what the song was about.

I decided to use Google to search for something that anyone had written about the meaning of the song. I came across this website. Here is this person’s explanation (some of the grammar isn’t perfect for American English, but you get the idea):

There’s a mith about the streets of the city of Belfast in the Northern Ireland. You can know the person’s religion and income of a person only knowing the name of the street where the person live. In Etiopia, where Bono and his wife Ali Hewson are went for an Humanitarian visit, all the streets don’t have name. And Bono sees that this little thing leads to less separation between the people. Less differences and more integration. The lyrics of this song starts all from here.

That explanation really helps to unlock the whole song for me. I couldn’t tell if the place where streets have no name was Heaven or what. But this myth from Belfast is like the keycode that unlocks the cipher. I needed it.

So with that new knowledge, I want to go through this song slowly and see what you might have for me through the wisdom of some fellow Christian sojourners.

I want to run, I want to hide
I want to tear down the walls that hold me inside
I wanna reach out and touch the flame
Where the streets have no name
I want to feel sunlight on my face
I see that dust cloud disappear without a trace
I wanna take shelter from the poison rain

Anger and judging others can get so fatiguing. I get tired of other people doing it, but I do it too. I do it to relatives, friends, people I see in the store, and even politicians. I judge them through the lens through which I enter the world. Notice that the second line doesn’t accuse other people of doing this. He is pointing the finger at himself: “I want to tear down the walls that hold me inside.” And he knows what will be there in that place that is free from judgment and prejudice. He will feel sunlight. Evil loves the dark, but truth loves the light. The dust cloud of dirtiness and obfuscation will be gone. And he will get out of the poisonous environment that he’s leaving behind.

Where the streets have no name, oh oh
Where the streets have no name
Where the streets have no name
We’re still building then burning down love
Burning down love
And when I go there, I go there with you
It’s all I can do

I think this chorus is referring to the idea that we will successfully build things, but then, in our humanness, we will burn it down–especially love. If we can just go to that place where we accept and love each other with your grace and your love then we will have arrived in a whole new world.

The city’s a flood
And our love turns to rust
We’re beaten and blown by the wind
Trampled into dust
I’ll show you a place
High on the desert plain

Our love turns to rust
We’re beaten and blown by the wind
Blown by the wind
Oh and I see love
See our love turn to rust

The separations we put between ourselves–where we live, worship, eat out, shop, work, etc.–can’t help but put walls between us. I went back and watched the original music video for this song. They filmed it in a rough part of Los Angeles from the roof of a building the was probably three to five stories tall. Word got out and people from all over the city region came. Rich, poor, black, white, male, female, employed, unemployed, etc. all gathered as one to watch them perform this song. So many showed up that the police had to shut down the filming, but not until after they got some neat footage. But in that moment, no one cared about the address except for the fact that that’s where everyone was.

When we live lives apart and when we don’t allow ourselves to understand what is happening in Central America that is driving refugees to our border, then our love most certainly turns to rust. They have their country (i.e. their street name) and we have our country (i.e. our street name). I’m not suggesting we open up our borders, but I am suggesting that we think more about how to improve their street and reinvigorate our love for others.

Father, help me to apply this to my own life. Help me to apply it to my family relationships. Help me to be sensitive to it in my community and to those who live outside my community. And please don’t let my love turn to rust.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2018 in Hymns and Songs, Uncategorized

 

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