Category Archives: STUFF JESUS SAYS

Who Was That Masked Man? (Avoiding Superficial Spirituality Part 2)

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You did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.  Luke 19:44

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.  1 Corinthians 2:10

I’ve been bemoaning the relative depth of my own commonplace Christianity and what seems so typical among many Christians and their churches. In my last post I talked about how we shut the door to exploring the realm and the Person of God any further than our initial salvation and have no expectation or intention of delving any deeper. God’s invitation to a deeper place begins with our dissatisfaction with the place we’re in.

After his resurrection Jesus made some curious appearances, including his stroll with a couple of befuddled believers on the road to Emmaus.

As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him . . . we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel . . . it is the third day since all this took place. Luke 24:15-16, 21

Strange episode. Right? They were walking with Jesus complaining to Jesus that Jesus was gone and wasn’t coming back! If that doesn’t depict us when we’re hot and bothered about something going on in our lives and interrogating God about why he doesn’t hear our complaint. Continue reading

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He is not here; he has risen! (Avoiding Superficial Spirituality Part 1)

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“If you were to fall into the sea, and were that sea infinite, you would fall from one depth to another for all eternity. This is how it is with the Christian who is continuously abiding in him. He is sinking with inconceivable swiftness to the most inward depths of God.” Jeanne Guyon

“Put out into deep water…” Luke 5:4

No one plans to be a shallow Christian. But it does take some forethought and action to be a deeper one. Deep spirituality doesn’t happen by default.

Some people are shallow in their walk with God simply because they didn’t realize that the form of faith that was modeled to them and into which they were invited was shallow from the start. Superficiality is all they know, all they’ve been exposed to.

Others were blessed with a better beginning and were on a trajectory to dive progressively deeper into the mystery of who God is, but somewhere along the line they got waylaid and took a detour into a decidedly thin version of Christianity. Their faith became increasingly trivial. They read the Bible, pray, go to church most Sundays, give offerings, and even help other people when they get a chance; but their spirituality is more superficial than not. Continue reading

How Wide Is Your Welcome? (Part 2 of 2)

Welcome matIn Part 1 I noted how the twelve, like us, had a hard time accepting people outside their own spiritual circle. “Those other so-called Christians might believe in Jesus but they believe a little different than us. They don’t worship enough, or maybe too much. They don’t evangelize the way we do or pray in a way that is unfamiliar to us. They’re not strict enough in their practice of faith or they’re too strict. They have a different name on their church sign than ours, so they can’t possibly be as right as we are!”

There’s a church in our community whose sign you can see from the freeway called “The True Jesus Church.” It’s a clear message to all who pass by that there is at least one church in town that presents the True Jesus. I guess all the others worship an untrue Jesus?

As we saw last time, we don’t have a very wide welcome if we seek to shut up those who belong to a different expression of the Kingdom. But, as Luke’s adjacent story reveals it becomes obvious that these same disciples had such a narrow welcome that they prayed to burn up people who reject them and their Jesus. Continue reading

How Wide Is Your Welcome? (Part 1 of 2)

Welcome mat

46 An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. 47 Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. 48 Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”

49 “Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.”

50 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”

51 As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; 53 but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. 54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” 55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them. 56 Then he and his disciples went to another village. Luke 9

All disciples of Jesus are a work in progress. One way to know how far we have to go is the width of our welcome mat. Jesus’ first disciples had at the beginning a mat that wasn’t even wide enough to wipe one foot on! And it didn’t have the words “Everyone Welcome” woven into it. That sort of wide welcome developed over time. Continue reading

TO DANCE OR TO DIRGE? (Wisdom’s Many Children) Part 2

wisdom1In Part 1 we talked about how it takes more than one person, one church, one political party, or one culture to represent true wisdom, and how an over-identification with one over another is not only unwise but immature. Jesus said it reminded him of spoiled children whining about not getting their way.

“To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other:

“‘We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance, we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.’

For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by all her children.” Luke 7:31-34

John and Jesus weren’t opposites. The way they conducted themselves was not contradictory but complementary. They both represented wisdom, while, from the outside looking in neither displayed to the naked eye all that wisdom entails. [Note: Of course Jesus was and is all that wisdom is, but to the ascetics of the day, he wasn’t ascetic enough. Although we might point out that he was born in a cave, fasted for forty days, and had no house to live in. Fairly ascetic from my point of view.] Continue reading

TO DANCE OR TO DIRGE? (Wisdom’s Many Children) Part 1

wisdom-sign“To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other:

“‘We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance, we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.’

For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by all her children.” Luke 7:31-34

To dance or not to dance, is that the question? Or is it: To sing a dirge or not to sing one? Which one is it? One party believes in perpetual dancing and the other thinks we should live in continuous dirging, and neither camp respects the others, in fact, makes sport of them.

Which side are you on? Right or left? Choose you this day which you will serve, saith the Lord! If you want to be wise––wise like us––you’ll be like us and certainly not like them!

If I want to be wise, how should I live? As much as I want a handy dandy cliché answer to that, reason requires something more. Wisdom is more complex than that what one can sum up with one word, unless the word is Jesus! (See 1 Corinthians 1:24) But let’s come back to that…

The proof of wisdom is in all the kinds of people it produces.” Luke 7:34 (CJB)

If there were a town called “Wisdom” it would have to have a population of more than one! Continue reading

The Weaponized Bible

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“…the letter kills but the Spirit gives life…” 2 Corinthians 3:6

“Weaponize” is a newly coined verb that means, “to convert for use as a weapon.”

A “Weaponized Bible” is a dangerous book used to justify many destructive and deadly practices.

  • They weaponized the Bible in order to initiate and perpetuate the crusades
  • They weaponized the Bible so they could in good conscience justify slavery
  • They weaponized the Bible to support Jim Crow laws
  • They weaponized the Bible to justify anti-Semitism (to the point of the Holocaust)
  • They weaponized the Bible to villainize Irish Catholics immigrating to the U.S.
  • They weaponize the Bible today to engender hate against gays, Muslims, Mexicans, and all the other “others”

Continue reading