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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’


Yes, I know.  I am weird.  While other people have dreams of many different things, I haven’t heard of many that dream sermons.  I do.  On occasion.

This week I had a dream about something that I should have known for a long time, but yet it seems to not make the top 10 of things on my mind.  But, as a believer, it should.

Jesus had a family.

Yep. Gotcha there.  We all know Jesus had a family on earth.  Mary was his mom.  Joseph his dad.  James was a brother (or technically half brother).  And, on and on.  Nothing new here.  Move along.

Nope.  That’s not what I meant.  Jesus had a family.  He had a mom and a dad.  Specifically, what came to mind was this passage that I will quote:

6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
I used the King James Version because that’s how it was in the dream and the original English words most of us know are important here; “she wrapped him in swaddling clothes”.  Mary swaddled Jesus to comfort him and protect him.  He was her son and regardless of his lineage or divinity, he was a baby and needed his mother’s protection and love.
Swaddling is an ancient practice still used by some parents.  It generally only works with newborns and for a little while after.  The baby is wrapped snugly in blankets, arms, legs and all.  Motion is limited but the child is still and feels protected.
We forget these things about Jesus way too often.  Some of the gnostics just a few centuries after Jesus’ walk on the earth thought that his divinity would not allow him to touch this dirty, sinful earth and  he traveled all his life floating just above the earth.  In this view, he would be aloof, uncaring, and not connected to humanity at all.  Sadly, I think many of us tend to look at Jesus that way today, whether we are believers or not.
It is very easy to see Jesus in this light.  We want to distance our sinful natures from the purity of his divinity.  We want to look only at his god nature and not at his humanity.  We prefer to see the existence of the wrath he would bestow upon us because of the things we’ve done.  But, in reality, I think that is farthest from his nature towards us.  When Jesus took up the incarnation, he took it up fully, just as we have to do.  Jesus’ humanity was not separate from his divinity; both natures were fully integrated into each other.
Because Jesus had a loving and protecting mother and a caring father, he knew and lived his life inside a family.  I think that is a bit of why he loved all of us, because we are also his family.  I have no doubt that we are able to disappoint Jesus at times, but he does forgive us, his family and wants to love and protect us always.  Jesus really is our brother and God is really our Father.  We as humans and children of God would do so much better if we could lay hold of this truth and travel through life with it in our heads and our hearts.
On this, the last day of 2016, when so many are in turmoil around our world, I will hold to the truth taught by the man and God that once was swaddled in a manger by his mother.
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Today is Thanksgiving and I am sitting on the couch at my wife’s parent’s house enjoying being around everyone.  Our kids and grandkids will be here later to enjoy food and family.  Yes, this is a cliché Thanksgiving post.

Not everyone is here though.  There has been loss and there is also separation. So, it is not always as easy as it seems, but then for many, holidays are never as Hallmark-y as they make it out to be.

In our bible class at church we are studying John’s gospel.  He’s that “other” guy in the group.  The one that didn’t write like all the rest.  One of John’s repeated motifs is the “I AM” statements from Jesus.  “I AM the Light that has come into the world,” Jesus says.  “I AM the Bread…”, “I AM the Good Shepherd“, and “I AM the Resurrection and the Life”, are also statements of Jesus.  I suppose these hearken back to when Moses was at the burning bush asking God what His name was so that the Hebrews would know whom it is that Moses is talking to them about.  God’s only answer was, “I AM THAT I AM“.  He needed nothing more.

I think that at this time of year, it is good that we see that same simple statement in ourselves and the kind of spiritual power those small words have.  I am…

I am…thankful.  That is the biggest thing for this year.  It has not been easy for me or my family.  Since losing my former job in 2012, I was finally hired after five months of searching by a nearby hospital.  I am thankful for being able to keep a roof over our heads and food upon the table.  My new situation doesn’t allow for much more than that, but we have still been blessed and cared for every day of this past year.  Regardless of how little we had in our pockets, God provided for us all year.  I am thankful for these blessings because I know that others have even less and are still thankful.

I am…a runner.  Didn’t think I would stick that in here, did you?  No matter what has happened this year in other ways, I am still a runner.  I still get up twice during the week to run before the sun is up, and every Saturday I still go out for my long run.  My only race of the year will be in a week at the Dallas Marathon, where I am running the half.  I was fortunate to register back in the Summer and I am looking forward to the race. Yes, I am still a runner.

I am…a cyclist.  Well, we have to keep it going don’t we?  Cycling  is an expensive sport.  However, it can also be simple.  I managed one organized ride in May, but I have still been riding.  I have friends that have gotten up early on Sundays to ride a few miles and when they aren’t available, I realized I could still get up early and ride for myself.  While I don’t ride as many miles as in past years, I still ride and have made a few good routes around town.

I am…a triathlete.  Well, this one is just on faith.  I stopped swimming about a month ago just because it got very boring.  I did manage to make my distance up to a mile a week for a while this year from mid-Summer until Fall.  However, 1800 yards in a 20 yard pool can get very old.  So, I will just sit out for a while until I just have to go back.

I am…still in ministry.  I thought that when we started over at a new church that I would just be “around”.  That isn’t the plan I see.  There have been opportunities all year for ways that I can serve and I have been glad of the opportunities.

Yep, it’s been quite a good year after all.  And, just think: Christmas is just around the corner and many new adventures await.  Happy running, and happy thanksgiving!

 

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As originally promised, I will sometimes talk about things other than cycling and running.  Today happens to be one of those days.

While watching the Jon Stewart show the day after the election, I heard remarks from Bill O’Reilly and Sarah Palin that were just completely out of line, even for Fox News.  Bill O’Reilly told us that those that voted for President Obama did so only because they want “free stuff” and believe he’ll provide that.  Folks, those are his freakin’ words.  He went further into a diatribe that really cut down the American people, in my view.  Mrs. Palin was no better since she declared that the voters would rather elect a President that didn’t follow the Constitution (despite the fact she has no proof of that).

In addition, I have also listened to friends  discuss the outcome of the election as if it means that everything just went horribly wrong.  I will also say that many of my friends are also believers in God and followers of Jesus Christ.  I do not doubt in any way their sincerity or their faith.  However, I do not doubt mine either or my faith in the American system of government.

I’ll start with the outcome of the vote.  The electorate (that’s you and me guys) chose to return a Democrat President to the Whitehouse and maintain a split Congress (majority Republican in the House, majority Democrat in the Senate).  The day after the election, I listened to a press briefing from House Speaker John Boehner on the subject.  I agree with his assessment that the American people were quite clear in maintaining things as they are means that we really intend for these two parties and the two branches of government to work together.  Those are the wisest things I’ve heard from Speaker Boehner in the last two years.  The electorate has slapped the hands of both branches of government for their ineptitude in serving the country.  Now, we mean for them both to get off their high horses (of political special interests and issues) and go to work for goodness sake.

Second, I empathize with many Christians that feel it is a moral imperative to seek out political candidates that believe as they do about certain issues.  Yet, respectfully, I submit they are being fooled.  I turned away from supporting the Republican party two years ago when I heard the same Speaker Boehner say that the Republicans would refuse to compromise with the Whitehouse.  We see what that ill-advised plan has accomplished.  I continue to not support a Republican party that believes we can fix our economy with less regulation and less taxes for those that can afford same.  I will not support a Republican party that wants to do away with Obamacare because I believe that only lowers the quality of healthcare instead of raising it for all people.

Since much of this discussion hinges on a couple of moral issues, let me clarify something.  I am pro-life.  I believe in the sanctity of life and that abortion for no good reason is wrong.  I believe that marriage should only be between one man and one woman.  I also believe that homosexuality is wrong as well.  I believe these things because I believe in a living God and His Christ and that the Bible is important to the doctrine to which I ascribe.  However, that last part is very important, this is my belief and I am obliged to follow it.  I cannot use the rule of law (or political power) to try and enforce those beliefs on others.

Allow me to go further.  I believe in the freedom we all have as Americans.  Despite my beliefs, many people believe differently.  I am required by my own faith to respect their beliefs as I want mine respected.  I am still called to love everyone regardless of what they believe.  As such, I believe that the issue of marriage should be decided at the state level, not the federal.  This is actually what we are seeing.  Since there is no law against folks being homosexual, it’s our responsibility to treat all people equally regardless.  Since the legalization of abortion was determined on the issue of right to privacy, I am called to leave it where it lies.  It may not be turning out the way I like it, but that is not my issue to fix, even by my vote.  Chief Justice John Roberts already admitted that Roe v. Wade is “settled law” in his mind and that of many.  We need to get over these issues folks and turn our attention to being better witnesses and better parents if we want our morals to be respected.

Now, to apply those statements.  I personally chose to vote Democrat this time because I did not like the choices put forth by the Republican Party.  We have much, much bigger fish to fry than whether or not we have a marriage clause in the constitution or whether we can overturn Roe V. Wade.  I do believe there is a great separation between the wealthy and the poor (and the middle class too) in our nation.  I do believe that there is a sequestration of wealth going on at some level.  I also believe that Obamacare is a necessary step in the right direction for healthcare in our nation.  I want to see all levels of our society make the same impact and the same sacrifices to correct the poor economic situation.

Since I do not know the mind of God, I cannot see that it is “His will” to vote for one party over another.  Though all sins are equal with God, I think it a much greater sin for us to allow people to go without good paying jobs or without adequate healthcare.  Since it is clear from the Bible that we are to take care of God’s creation, we need to realize that climate change is happening and take adequate steps for our grandchildren’s futures.  Pardon me for not believing that maintaining healthy tax breaks for those above $250,000 per year in income will increase the financial security of the middle class or the poor.  Pardon me for not believing that less regulations upon financial institutions and manufacturers makes them more inclined to follow the rules and play fair.  Pardon me for thinking that a good path for poor immigrants towards work and responsibility is a good thing.  I think it appalling for us to blame any segment of our society for our problems, especially when many of our problems relate more to greed than anything else.

To sum all this up, I am calling for both parties involved in governing to grow up and learn to both get along together and work together for the common good of all the people.  Leave the issue of morality where it belongs, at home and in the pulpit.  Deal with the big issues of financial security and national security, like the Constitution actually says.  I am calling for all my friends that lament the choices made by the electorate this election year to also grow up and realize that God is still great.  I believe that the outcome represents God’s will for our nation and we should act accordingly.  Influence others by actually being Christian to all people.  Act like Jesus wants us to act. Quit worrying about which party believes what or if it is in power.  Learn to see through some of the rhetoric and listen to what is really being said.  I think you’ll be surprised.

If you’ve managed to stay with me this long, I’ll just get off my soapbox now.  I promise the next post will be about running or something much more enjoyable.  Happy running and cycling.

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This week, I finished reading Rob Bell’s new book, Love Wins.  I admit that without the hoopla, I probably wouldn’t have bothered.  However, since I respect Rob Bell as a preacher and prefer not to disparage any book without first reading it, I knew I would have to do so.  Thanks to Pam for loaning me the book so I could read what it’s all about.  The following is my assessment of whether or not the book’s detractors are correct or not.  In my opinion, though there is much in Bell’s book that Christians and others should be thinking about, his conclusions raise as many questions as it provides answers.  In addition, I’ll make this caveat before going forward: I am doing this from memory.  I gave the book back to its owner, so if I don’t state things correctly, don’t shoot me for it. (more…)

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