Better Off With(out) Jesus

No one likes to be abandoned. It’s a helpless, hopeless experience. Yet that’s exactly what the disciples of Jesus were feeling on the night he was betrayed.

They were gathered in a private room, Jesus and his 12 closest followers, having dinner. First Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, something that made them more than a little uncomfortable but spoke volumes about how much he loved them. Next Jesus predicted that one of his close followers would betray him, while yet another would deny him three times.

Picture yourself in that room, surprised to hear that any of you would betray and deny Jesus. This is your friend and teacher, someone you have come to love and respect, a spiritual leader you have watched perform miracles. Why would he think any of you would turn your back on him, especially after he washed your feet?

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How Do You Explain the Trinity?

You have probably heard some illustrations that are supposed to help explain the Trinity. One of the most common examples is the egg. Everyone knows an egg has three elements: the yoke, the white, and the shell. Each element is distinct from the other, yet they all combine to make up an egg. Just like the Trinity, right? Well…not really.

Yes, all three elements of the egg make up the egg, but each element by itself isn’t an egg. You can’t isolate the shell and say, “This is an egg.” The next time you have guests for breakfast, try scrambling up a couple of eggshells for them. We guarantee they will think you’re one egg short of a full omelet.

The shell is part of the egg, but separated from the other two parts, it isn’t truly an egg. By comparison, if you isolate Jesus or the Holy Spirit or God the Father and say of each one, “This is God,” you would still be right. They are all God, but they are not each other. Jesus is equal to God, but He isn’t God the Father. The Holy Spirit is equal to Jesus, but the Holy Spirit isn’t Jesus.

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The Divine Guide in Terrence Malick's "Tree of Life"

“And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’” (Revelation 21:2-4)

“…also, on either side of the river, the tree of life.” (Revelation 22:2)

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Hearing God in Daily Activities

I attend a Bible study on Thursdays at our church. We are reading through the Bible and as you can imagine, we have lots of questions. Some of the hard ones that baffle the minds of scholars, others are common to many and a number are based on curiosity alone.

We covered I Chronicles this week when someone asked the question, “Why was David able to hear God’s voice so clearly?” Was it because he and God have a special relationship or was it reserved just for David? Is this something we can have too?

This spurned talk and theories as we tackled the topic - the Holy Spirit – positioning ourselves to hear God – knowing His voice and many other explanations were discussed. But how do you know it’s God’s voice that we are hearing and not our own chatter that rambles around in our head?

We are clear in that the Holy Spirit doesn’t tell us anything that contradicts the Bible but what about the silly little things that happen during the day, like, “Should I stop home and make a ham sandwich for lunch or should I save time and hit a drive-thru in order to begin my errands sooner?

Now this may seem like a frivolous question but it’s the exact one that entered my head after Bible study.

Call Vignettes- A Series of Surrenders 6

Not all surrenders happen in a moment.  Some surrenders have come over time, as Jesus continues to invite me into a deeper relationship with him.  The notion that God interacts with his people directly has fascinated me since I was little.  I couldn’t understand what adults meant when they talked about God speaking to them.  How did you know it was God and not your own crazy thoughts?  What did you have to do for him to talk to you?  Should you talk back?  I had so many questions about the interaction.  In Junior High School I would lie in bed at night and practice hearing from God.  I would lie on my back and look up at the ceiling and say, “Lord, I want to hear your voice like adults say you speak to them.”  And then I would lie quietly.  I would examine each thought that came into my head, “Nope, that was my thought.” “Nope, that was definitely me.”  And on and on until I fell asleep. 

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Prayer from the Mesa

This week was our city prayer meeting.  A group of us from different sectors gather monthly to seek the peace and prosperity of our city together.  This month we were praying for the lonely in our community.  We split into small groups and the pastor in my group started it off.  "Lord", he prayed, "I'm lonely today."  That was as far as he got.  He hung his head, unable to continue.  We sat in silence for a moment and then I reached out and began praying for my brother.  It was as if his sincerity broke open our prayers.  From there we prayed for others who may be lonely:  single parents, seniors, prisoners, the hospitalized, , those far from just kept going.  As we prayed for each one, the Holy Spirit led our prayers, reminding us of others. 

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What if Jesus was on Twitter?

Shifting pace stinks. I have been shifting gears far too much recently. And I bet you have too. That is why I think it is crucial that we find a new gear for discussing spirituality. So today, on Twitter’s Follow #Friday (for you Twitter virgins, the # sign is Twitter lingo), I am wondering who we should follow. Who should we look to for hope when gears change, the economy is rearranged, and life is certainly not the same? (Yep, I can rhyme.)

And what if Jesus was on Twitter? Would we Follow #Friday him?
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Something's Missing

One the saddest verses in the Bible concerns the strongest man in the Bible:  "But he didn't realize the Lord had left him" (Judges 16:20).  In our pursuit of the abundant/full/enjoyable/overflowing life Jesus promises us (John 10:10), we often run full speed along the wrong path, choosing to rely on our own strength and abiltities--like Samson did--rather than the Lord's.

You'll remember that when Samson was captured by the Philistines, he was tied up, his eyes were gouged out, and he was put to work grinding grain.  In other words, he lost his power, he lost his vision, and life for him was a grind.  Samson's condition describes how many of us feel as rely on our own power rather than the Lord's.  We stumble around, searching for the abundant life that seems to elude us.  We have no spiritual power, we have no spiritual vision, and our life is a grind.

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God in the Salami: The Fine Line Between Faith and Fantasy

I came across a funny story earlier this week... 

A South Florida woman said she was cooking fried salami when she noticed the word "GOD" on the meat, Miami television station WFOR reported.  Nancy Simoes said she had three pieces in a skillet and flipped one of them and saw the letter G.  "Then got the O and I thought to myself how cool will it be if the third letter was a D."
Simoes realizes people may think she's crazy.  "I can't make this up. ... it's there in the burn marks." For 20 years, her family has enjoyed fried salami for breakfast. Now Simoes is wondering how she will preserve the "holy" salami. 
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Worshipers Before Workers

4 But when d​the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, e​not because of works done by us in righteousness, but f​according to his own mercy, by g​the washing of regeneration and h​renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he i​poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that j​being justified by his grace we might become k​heirs l​according to the hope of eternal life. 

Titus 3:4-7

To teach that the filling with the Holy Spirit is given to the Christian to provide "power for service" is to teach truth, but not the whole truth.  Power for service is but one effect of the experience, and I do not hesitate to say that it is the least of several effects.  It is least for the very reason that it touches service, presumably service to mankind; and contrary to the popular belief, "to serve this present age" is not the Christian's first duty...

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