Archive for the ‘Jesus’ tag
I got up very early this Saturday morning to fly to Lazaro Cardenas, Mexico, to spend a week getting acquainted with and working with our church planting mission there. Lazaro is a beautiful place on the southwest coast of Mexico and across the bay from Ixtappa. It is an important seaport full of working class people while Ixtappa is the tourist resort.
It was a short night after an exhausting week filled with anguish and loving concern. God’s redemptive love showed up in the words and actions of brothers and sisters who helped carry another family through a time of unspeakable grief … again — it has been a hard journey for our faith family the last four months.
The first flight went perfectly without a hitch, plus my friend and church shepherd, Steve Ridgell, was on board. After arriving early to DFW, we prayed before going in different directions to answer God’s shared but different calls on our lives.
I found a quiet spot and worked on heartlight.org piece for tomorrow and watched the Korean jetliner land coming in from Seoul, South Korea. I had been on that flight three weeks earlier returning from an incredible follow up visit to Chiang Mai, Thailand. I wasn’t sure what that was supposed to mean, but I do know that I hope this trip is equally blessed and effective.
After working on the article for a couple of hours, I rushed to the gate to board the plane and found a plane full of folks with no airplane! Ugh, this is going to get interesting and everyone knew it. Those with little children had that deer in the headlights look and we hadn’t even started the “fun” stuff yet. My AA flight alert went off very 30 minutes promising we would take off in 30 more minutes — which, of course, none of us believed because the plane wasn’t even at the gate yet. We boarded 2 hours after we were supposed to be in the air and all the small kids were now at the end of their patience and their parents had that knowing look of the “wonderful” moments to come. They weren’t disappointed … unfortunately.
Now an two hours into the flight, Bose headphones on, all the kids settled down and asleep, and the flight smooth as silk, I am reminded of something precious. One of my favorite Jesus events in the gospels is the healing of the man with leprosy in Mark 1. Jesus touches the may with leprosy before he heals him. So much is said with that one touch.
Jesus shares in the unclean-ness of this isolated and alone man when he blesses him with a moment of connection and heaven’s grace with the touch of a hand. We are alerted to look for Jesus’ touch in so many events that follow in his ministry — taking mud and spit to touch the blind man’s eyes, holding little children in his arms as he blesses them, taking the little dead girl’s hand and raising her from the dead, taking the simple loaves and fishes from the little boy and making a meal for a multitude, touching the dirt with his finger as he writes in the sand while facing down the mob who caught the woman in adultery, and offering Thomas his nail-scarred hands as proof of the resurrection, and as he stretches out his arms in love to offer those hands that shaped creation to be pierced by the very men who he formed in the wombs of their mothers.
The power of skin-on-skin touch is so much a part of our humanity whether it is the soft touch of a lover and lifetime spouse or the simple powdering of a baby’s freshly cleaned bottom or the tickle of a daddy on the ribs of his beloved child or the wrinkled hand of reassurance gripping tightly the hand of a friend who is slowly slipping away to walk with Jesus down better roads. No wonder heaven’s pre-existent and divine Word had to become flesh and walk among us.
I was reminded of this power afresh as a young mom wrestled with her 3 or 4 month old child trying to get her to take her bottle. The mom’s efforts were futile and the little girl was on a mighty crescendo until the mom discreetly lifted part of her blouse and laid her little girl against her skin and let her quietly nurse herself to sleep. As one baby grew quiet, the other little ones settled down, peace descended, and the atmosphere among our long-delayed band of travelers changed — one mother offering herself in such a sweet and simple way changed everything.
I am not sure how long this peace will continue, but long enough to let me finish my ramblings here. The point is very simple. There is great power in the human touch, especially from someone who loves us and genuinely cares about us. So in a week when grief and separation have hung in the air of every breath many of us have breathed, I would urge that you take this as a reminder to touch — hug, hold the hand, stroke the hair, rub the shoulders, or kiss the cheek of someone dear and remind them in both word and touch that they are precious to you.
So till we are reunited, my precious ones, your touch is in my mind and my love for you fills my heart as your faces fill my dreams.
Love you. God bless you. And may Jesus be real to your heart and your touch.
Paul told it to the Philippians and through them, we overhear the call today:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near (Philippians 4:4-5 tniv).
And in case you need to remember why we rejoice …
If we allow Him to be … the Lord IS near!
God bless you with a Merry Christmas.
Here’s a video of Ron DiCianni and his soon to be released painting of Jesus’ resurrection. It is worth your time to think about how much of Biblical history hinged on this one moment and Ron’s painting emphasizes this. Jesus emphasized this when He ate fish to show his doubting disciples that He had really been raised and was not ghost or a figment of their imagination. He then told them the following:
He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:44-47)
Hope you are inspired by the concepts and are reminded of how much of everything important to us hinges on Jesus’ resurrection!
Paul summarizes his ministry this way, and puts an exclamation mark on what is depicted here:
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God — the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 1:1-4)
The early followers of Jesus proclaimed this boldly (Acts 4:31), yet with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15), in the face of persecution and the loss of their lives (Acts 8:1-4). Why? Because without Jesus, there is not a cure to our deepest wound and religion rests only on our own power to be good, not upon grace.
In my Heartlight.org article today, I talk about Jesus knowing us personally and speaking to us. Here are some questions to go with the article that I’d love your feedback on as well as your input into the whole idea.
So if God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — are involved in our lives, and if the Lord speaks to us, then how does He do it and how can we can be sure it is really God and not some selfish desire or some worldly wisdom or some evil spirit trying to deceive us?
Ah! Two good questions. I’ll give you a response, but leave it to you to do some digging in Scripture to deepen your understanding and to discover God’s truth for yourself. (Try these ideas out and work through the Scripture references!)
How does Jesus speak to us today?
- While we sleep! (The Bible talks about God ministering to us while we sleep. I encourage you to read the article, While We Sleep.)
- During our times with our church family! We forget that church is more than filling pews and following a worship order. Jesus is present (Matthew 18:20) and through the power of the Holy Spirit, our worship becomes more than a sharing of words (1 Corinthians 5:4). Our songs are Spirit-filled messages where we speak to each other (Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:17-19). Those who speak are to do so as speaking the very words of God (1 Peter 4:11). So what is preached, what is said to encourage us by friends, the loving confrontations we help each other face in Bible study, and the messages we sing to each other are one way Jesus speaks truth and hope into our hearts!
- During our everyday life experiences. God is at work in us, speaking to us when we read His word, when we hear repeated thoughts from multiple sources, and through the well-timed note, phone call, or card we receive from a friend (Philippians 2:13; Romans 8:28).
What are some other ways you think the Lord may have spoken truth into your life?
But how can we know it is really from the Lord and not from some other source? Aren’t we taught to “test the spirits” to see if what is being said is true? (1 John 4:1-6)
Here are some ways to test to see if what we hear the Lord communicating is really from Him:
Pray for the Holy Spirit’s help in knowing what is truth and knowing Jesus’ will. The Holy Spirit is given to us to help us know the truth from error and to recognize what is from God and from some other source (1 John 2:20-27; 1 John 3:23-24; 1 John 4:1-6; John 14:16-18; John 14:26; John 15:26; John 16:12-15).
Do what Jesus says to do. Not only is Jesus’ truth self-validating when it is lived by His disciples (John 8:31-32), but Jesus promises to reveal Himself to us and come make His home with each of us (John 14:19-23).
What are other ways that you believe we can discern what is truly from Jesus and what is from some other source?
While I have said the Lord’s Prayer each day this week, I’ve not taken time to reflect on it out of the crucible of a busy, blessed, and frustrating week.
I was truly blessed and challenged by Catalyst One Day event on Monday, but was immediately thrown way behind on my weekly and worn out by the long day coming right after Sunday. Through this crazy week, which involved speaking on legalism on Wednesday night and jury duty mess today and several picky things not working as they should — ah, the darkside “blessings” of technology — I have felt a nagging hunger to come back to these words Jesus told me to pray. The prayer I need, however, is not a quick run through the following words, but a passionate experience of the words I’m praying!
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
For or yours is the kingdom and the power
and the glory forever. Amen.’”
I know “daily bread” in this prayer is talking about our daily food needed for survival. However, I have hungered to spend unhurried time in the presence of God, to be fed by His word, and to be nurtured by the Holy Spirit all week. While I’m all for condensing key thoughts to Twitter-sized bursts, my heart needs more.
In Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness, the Lord confronted the evil one with words that remind me that as necessary and vital “daily bread” is to me, I have a deeper hunger for a more sustaining bread:
It is written: “People do not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
Studying to prepare messages for other people, time in the Word to fulfill a reading plan, and quiet time to begin or end the day are all vital. Even more important is recognizing my need for heaven’s “daily bread”:
Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:32-35).
While I need to know the words of God from Scripture, I must not forget that my spirit craves and my soul needs this “Bread of Heaven.” My heart yearns for Jesus even when I don’t recognize it. And in those weeks where schedules are crazy, expectations are high, demands are pressing, and many small things go wrong? Ah, in these kinds of weeks I need to know and experience Jesus more.
O God, please feed me with this “daily bread” today.