Friday, July 30, 2010

Wisdom. (Guaranteed!)

"I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me."
(Proverbs 8:17)

In the 8th chapter of Proverbs, the author personifies wisdom as a woman.  She calls out to people: "Acquire intelligence, you who lack it!"  She comments on how her instructions are better than gold or silver.  She even comments that "those who seek me diligently, find me."

There are many things in life that do not come with guarantees: health, years of life, safety & security, permanence of relationships, acceptance, etc.  But Lady Wisdom says if we seek her diligently, we WILL find her.  Period.  As Christians, we believe that god will give us wisdom, if only we'll ask (see James 1:5).  It'll come!  Wisdom may not be always something you can quantify (like one's IQ score)... or always mean simply knowledge (like being a trivia expert!)... but it will sure take you far in life.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to seek Your Wisdom.  May I not rely on my own intelligence or understanding alone.  Help me to search for You with all diligence.  Keep me humble.  Thank you for the promise of wisdom to all of us who seek it.  Diligently.  AMEN!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Blood Stained

"Then the people as a whole answered, 'His blood be on us and our children!'"
(Matthew 27:25)

Okay, so Jesus is under arrest.  He's in "not-so-protective custody" with Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor in the Jerusalem region.  He was brought there by the Jewish religious leaders (though Matthew tells us that Pilate knew it was only out of jealousy that Jesus was turned over to him - see v.18!).  Pilate reminds the people of the tradition of releasing any one prisoner during Passover.  Pilate gives them 2 options: Jesus, or a criminal named Barabbas.  The people opt for the latter.  Repeatedly.  When Pilate presses their intentions for Jesus, they shout, "CRUCIFY HIM!"  Wow.  Pilate announces his "innocence" in the whole affair, and literally washes his hands in front of them, symbolizing his guilt-free conscience.  That's wen the crowd utters that fateful line: "His blood be on us and our children!"

Never have more ironic words been spoken.  The crowds are telling Pilate they'll be responsible for the blood of Jesus that's shed.  But they don't realize that spiritually, his blood WILL be upon them - in the sense that because of his blood, they (& their children) can be forgiven!

Isn't that how God often works?  With our petty, vindictive, small-minded natures, we often lash out at God & others when emotions & feelings run high.  We say & do things that are not Christ-like.  We make a mess of things regularly.  But through it all, the blood of Jesus falls upon us and our children.  Forgiveness.  Healing.  Cleansing.  Restoration.  We may not even ask for it - but it's there.  If only we'll accept it.

If only...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Stayin' Alive?

"From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, an on the third day be raised."
(Matthew 16:21)

It's human nature.  Animal instinct.  "Protect thyself."  Look out for #1.  Or, in the immortal words of the BeeGees, "Ah, ah, ah, ah... stayin' alive!"  We seem to be wired towards self-preservation.  That's probably why Peter had such a hard time with what Jesus had said to them.  "God forbid it, Lord!" he cried out.  "This must never happen to you!"

The fact is, they'd just gotten going.  Three years seemed like such a short time to be in ministry together.  Jesus' momentum, following, and fame had really taken off lately!  And now, Jesus starts talking some nonsense about suffering & death?!?!  Doesn't he get it?  That can't happen to The Chosen One!

But Jesus knew differently.  As humans, we may be prone to self-preservation... but we were meant to live a life of SELF-SACRIFICE!  Yes, it was counter-intuitive and counter-cultural (it still is!)... but the Kingdom of God is based on putting others first... and responding in sacrificial love!  Jesus was trying to help them learn the powerful lesson that this kind of lifestyle actually leads to a more abundant & meaningful life!  The disciples had a hard time learning that.  So do we.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


"The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes & sells all that he has & buys that field."
(Matthew 13:44)

When I was a kid, I'd dream about finding buried treasure.  Must have been all those PIRATE stories/movies (though this was before Jack Sparrow's fame!).  Whenever I was out in the woods (like by my cousins' houses in VA), I'd go searching for "treasurers" that might have been lost there.  I never found any, but it sure was fun to search!

Jesus once told a parable about the Kingdom of Heaven being like treasure... treasure that someone found, buried & then bought the field it was in.  Interesting analogy, isn't it?  The Gospel is supposed to be FREE for all, right?  At least in welcoming it into our hearts.  And it's all around us (the reality of God's love & grace for everyone!).  But somehow it remains hidden to so many.  When someone "discovers" this amazing grace, it's life-changing!  And what is free becomes something that costs everything... because everything changes.  Priorities, values, relationships, what's important in life, everything!  So it's not unlikely for someone to "sell all he has and buy that field."

My role, as pastor, is to help more people find the treasure.  There's enough for everyone (and then some!).  The Gospel can be found all over - in numerous fields in our lives - if only we'll look (and help others search, too!).