Passion Week Musing: The Dangerousness of Jesus


Jesus was a dangerous.  Think about it. See he came to change things. His mission was to make things different. He posed risk to those that were in charge. He posed such risk that Herod the Great killed many infant males to try and kill one. He was so dangerous that the crowd tried to kill him on more the one occasion.  Most had hoped that his dangerousness would mean the end of Rome and re-establishment of Israel as a country and kingdom. However, that was not what yes was about. He did not meet those expectations. This also made him dangerous.  It was his dangerousness that led to his death. He lived God’s way. He was concerned for each individual. He loved and demonstrated concern for others over appearances of righteousness. He was so dangerous that they decided that He needed to die for the good of all. They considered Him so dangerous that the tried him at night, examining ultimately if He was one who is leading Israel astray and worthy of death. They decided He was and assured his death. Jesus was dangerous.

Jesus is a dangerous.  Think about it. He changes things.  Following him involves loss of control and submission. There is great risk in following Jesus.  If you truly follow Jesus your life is will be the same.  There is no one in history who unsettles people like even the name of Jesus does. Mention of the name can bring unease and unsettle others. See following Jesus involves trust and faith. It involves a belief without absolute certainty. It involves following a different way and going against the ways of the world. Jesus is dangerous.

Jesus will be dangerous. Think about it. There is a time coming when Jesus returns. It will be a time for those that do not follow him to fear for there will be wrath untold. The twisting on creation due to the impacts of life outside of dependence on God will be undone. All of creation will not go untouched. There will be wrath. There will be judgment. There will be making things right. Never before will there be any greater danger and no greater power unleashed.  Jesus will be dangerous

Now that you have done some thinking. Realize that to some the danger of Jesus is the making of a villan because there is great danger. He does not meet expectation. If you follow Him you are good, if not, an enemy. Either he is Lord and King or not.  See, there are many who want to live their own way. Many who think that they are good enough for they care about and try to look out for others and do other nice deeds.  How dare the creator of the universe be told to show self and come in such a manner? How dare He require complete surrender? Yet, Jesus brings forth life. He sets things right and in all that danger He alone brings true peace. For all the danger that is there, the danger only exists if you reject and turn away. And there are those who have thought about it, recognize it and follow Jesus, this ever so dangerous one. The letting go brings far more than any risk and true life and peace are gained.  So, yes, Jesus is dangerous, but in the end He alone brings about true health and wholeness. So accept the dangerousness and surrender. Once you do you will never be the same and it will be good.

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Holy Week Musings: Palm Sunday- Evaluate Expectations

Today, 4/1/2012, is celebrated as Palm Sunday. It is the day Jesus made is triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a colt and people laid palm fronds before Him proclaims Hosanna. Jesus came to Jerusalem for Passover and excitement was buzzing. He had raised Lazarus from dead and taught from the Mount of Olive. People were excited about what Jesus was about to do. They eagerly expected that the tyranny of Rome would be shaken off and that Jesus would take his place on David’s throne to rule as Messiah. On that day, many years ago, Jesus entered Jerusalem in the way that scripture prophesied Messiah would enter Jerusalem. The buzz that day had to be immense and it culminated in a huge spontaneous celebration. Palm Sunday was in essence really the first flash mob, only there was no planning involved, it just happened. People were excited. God was about to change everything and life would soon be better for all. Unfortunately, they missed the reality. Yes, God was about to change everything, just not in a way that matched expectations. Rather, God moved in a greater way that was beyond improving our life now, but rather making a way for all to be made right, fully. For Jesus did not lead a revolution or take the throne. He did not destroy Rome and life was not going to be any different. Now certainly the throngs and cries of the people had to bring temptation to invoke the plan of doing whatever to make life best for now. He could have taken the throne and undid of Rome but that would have missed the point of undoing what had been done. Adam had put all of creation under a curse of sin by one action. Jesus by one action made the way of restoration and redemption. He made it possible for man to be in direct relationship with God. He suffered greatly to bring freedom.

People expected and wanted one thing but God had something else in mind. Today, often times we are not any different than the Palm Sunday crowd. We want God to make our life best in the moment. We are focused in what God is doing for me know. We get upset if God doesn’t somehow bring circumstance to our liking. Personally, I have had my own expectations shattered at times and it did lead to periods of great anger and sin. God didn’t do things the way I thought He should. See our expectations are dangerous things and are usually wrong. Our expectations are based on our view of the world and what we think is best in the moment. Our expectations come out of our selfishness. Life doesn’t play out in accordance with what we think is “our best life now.” Things do not work out in accordance with what we want. And if we get what we want, the how we get there is usually not the way or path chosen on getting there. The story that plays out in life is never what we expect and always filled with surprises. There are many reasons for the many twists and turns of life that run contrary to even the most honorable of expectations.

So does that mean we should not have expectations? No, but we need to be constantly evaluating our expectations and desires. We need to continually be submitting whatever we expect or want before God. We need to exam self and the motives behind what we expect. We need to continually pursue God and his truth and change our own perspective to line up with His perspective. We need to move beyond the momentary and temporary and be open to whatever greater has in store. Ultimately, God meets our wants, desires, and expectations. When God does act, He acts in ways that far exceed whatever we could hope or imagine. Just like God’s plan of redemption truly met the needs of all who are willing to accept it. God had a better way. This remains true to this day. So, take time to examine where you are at, what you expect of God, what you expect with others, and what you expect of self. Examine all in light of scripture and ask God to direct paths and steps, even if things to do not go the way you expect. For Gods ways always exceeds expectations, even if we do not grasp it.

Holy Week Musing: The Growing Confusion

 

Yesterday, Palm Sunday 2011, thoughts were focused on the great expectations found in the crowd of people when Jesus enteredJerusalem.  Emotions and expectations were at a peak. Those expectations readily turned to great confusion.  People expected that when the Messiah came toJerusalem, all would be made right the Son of David who would reign forever would take his place. So Jesus, came, people were ecstatic for Jesus did recently raise Lazarus from the dead.  There would be no stopping Him.

So what did Jesus do?  Did he go after the Roman tyrants? No, He went to the temple and wreaked havoc with those plying their goods and services for Passover.  Questions started to mount.  They listened to Him, and He talked of things that didn’t make sense such as to gain your life you must lose it. He talked ofJerusalembeing destroyed. He told parables and stories that didn’t make sense.  The question on peoples mind is “Is this what we were waiting for?” or “What on earth is He doing?” leading eventually to “This doesn’t make sense.”  The crowd clearly became confused.

The disciples, those closest to Him also became confused. Yes, they heard Him talk of needing to die.  Peter boldly proclaimed He would follow Jesus anywhere.  But the disciples didn’t get it, for how could they? We know read the accounts and at times wonder how they could miss it, but each of us would to.  It was very confusing.  Talk of going where cannot follow.  Talk of not knowing the day and hour of the coming of the Son of Man. Jesus was right there with them. It was just all so confusing. 

Yet, God knew this.  God knows we do not grasp or understand His ways. He does give us what we need that if we see and hear, things at one point will be made clear.  Certainly not in the immediate moments of great confusion, but when needed, God’s answers are provided as needed.  If we are seeking, following, and surrendered to God, we will get clarity in time.  If not, there will be anger, disgust, and despair for the truth is rejected with the thoughts that the truth does not make sense enough to be true.

See, the truth of Jesus coming toJerusalemto die as the eternal sacrifice, the eternal lamb made no sense. What mind could grasp the plan of God, which was the Messiah would die.  He left the message, it was clear, but people were confused and did not understand.  Yet, God had His plan, and now there is way for all to be set free and redeemed by acceptance and surrender to God through Jesus.  This concept still confuses many today, yet is the truth. For the fact is we really do not grasp the depth of God’s love and His actions. We really just do not “get it” at times.  Yet, God works through it all.  God is in control and He will be glorified.  For His love is so great that He in His love, served us by taking on Humanity while fully God and engaging in an action that sets right that which was twisted.  The choice is to accept and walk in that way, or reject it. All it takes is getting beyond the confusion, letting God, and trusting God and His great love.

In Remembrance: Sharing of Memories related to Janie Blake

My thoughts have been many since Janie Blake started her new day and left us behind. It has been hard to focus and write anything, yet there is much to write and process. It is though time to start putting down words that are on my heart. The best place to start is sharing a bit of the impact that Janie Blake had on my life and in the life of others. Yet, for me the sharing of the memories that is the story of Janie Blake and how she touched my life is not easy. See, Janie Blake in my life from the start is a mix of pain and hurt along with blessing and healing. The two really go hand in hand and are hard to separate. The elements of pain are not appropriate to write about as there are other people involved and they need to be considered and honored. So, my sharing of memories publicly is limited. However, the limit is on me being able to share the fact that God did use her in people’s lives to build them up and help them grow in love and truth by sharing love and truth.

Ultimately, the core of my relationship with Janie Blake can be summed up as a mutual sharing of love and truth. No matter what was going on with each of us being who we are, there was love and truth in operation. And honestly, most of the time, most of the memories are just us being who we are, together. This was whether sharing meals, playing games, or just having conversation. There are stark differences in our personality despite sharing that core of interacting in truth and love. Her personality was more active. She would find a way to be involved. She had to be part of the “action.” If there was something going on, rest assured Janie wanted to be a part of it. Now, my personality is one that is more observant, watchful. I want to be where action is but will often be at the edge, watching what is going on, always looking to grow and understand. Recently saw a picture from during my sophomore year on college, it was me as always on the edge, watching & observing. My nature is to meet people where they are and come along side.

Janie’s nature is that of going after someone and pulls them in. It is because of Janie that have met and cared for several people that otherwise would not have. It is even in her active pursuit that the healing, blessing, and growth that occurred in time, happened. She actively pursued with love and grace. Part of the healing pertains to my dear wife. We had a period where she ran from God in response to deep pain and disappointment. One related to a young man dying of brain cancer, the other a disappointment over a hope for job situation. Janie loved her, spoke truth, and pursued her with not knowing anything more than my wife was hurting and angry. She provided an accurate reflection of God’s pursuit, for ultimately God pursued my wife through Janie and others until she returned back to God. Janie was consistent in her pursuit and building up of others, reaching out with love and truth. She was faithful to God’s call on her life and produced much fruit. She lived who she was before God and man. She let her light shine in her actions and deeds and brought Glory to God the Father.

I hope folks take the time to share memories of Janie there are many places to do so. There is the comments section here on this blog article. There is here Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/profile.php?id=828554733. There is my father’s Facebook page as well: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/profile.php?id=1128826601. There is also Janie Blake’s caring bridge site: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/janieblake. There is also the option to share thoughts at the online obituary at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/startribune/obituary.aspx?page=lifestory&pid=147504299. You also may have own resources, but please do share. I may add folks thoughts to comment sections as run across, so please subscribe to the comments in this article. I know there are many folks who have prayed for Janie and did not know her, by sharing others can know and the harvest and impact will continue.

Labor Day Musing: True rest for those labored and burdened

This past weekend was Labor Day weekend with Monday being Labor Day in the United States. This is a time set aside to rest from our toiling at being productive members of the workforce and taking a day of ease and rest. For me today the verse Matthew 11:28 (ESV) has come to mind:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

This simple statement is profound.  Jesus is giving and invitation to a difficulty many experience.  The statement contains three elements; the invitation, the invitee, and the result of accepting the invitation.  Those elements are worth more specific examination.

First, there is the invitation: Come to me. It is a simple request and formed in an imperative tone that is very direct and certain.  Jesus directs the invitee to come to him.  The word come is not a passive word. It sets a firm direction.  It takes an act of moving from one location to another. Here that direction is toward Jesus. Wherever one is, they need to change and move toward Jesus. Now it is interesting that the word in the Greek translated as me is μέ that encompasses all elements of self, I, me, and my. So in essence, Jesus is requesting and directing others to set their direction toward all of Him.  It is a request of a directed action, not a passive response. It is a movement away from whatever direction one is on, which in most cases would be that of a self-chosen direction, and a move toward Jesus.

Now the second element is the invitees. Here Jesus addresses a particular group.  The group he is addressing are those that are tired from the work they have engaged in and are weighed down with burdens they cannot bear on their own.  He is directing any that have come to the limits of their own effort and feel unable to go further to set their direction to him.  It is a call to cease the striving of self that drains energy and adds weight and to look and move toward one that can provide aid.  If one is at a place in life where there daily refrain is “I’m tired” or “I cannot take much more” Jesus invites to turn your direction to him and cease the striving. Jesus answer is quite different from that of the world.  The world points to need for constant effort and striving followed by momentary periods of relief in the varied offerings of momentary relief and pleasure.  Jesus rather, calls to actively head in a different direction. He does not direct toward the numbing actions of pleasure and distraction but an active turn in direction.

Jesus invitation comes with an exact and defined benefit.  Jesus states that the benefit of coming to him is rest.  He offers the opposite of the state of the invitees.  Those that are “tired” and “cannot take any more” can find rest by moving toward Jesus. The act of turning toward Jesus that brings the rest, rather it is what Jesus gives.  He gives the rest if you come to Him. Now, it is worth noting that the concept of rest here is far beyond what we consider rest.  It is not just a recharging of energy, but complete refreshment at deep levels.  The rest Jesus offers is more than a good nap or a good night sleep. It is even more than an extended vacation. It is a rest that brings one alive.  What Jesus has to give is beyond anything we can do for self. It is beyond our comprehension and what we experience in the short term is only but a taste of the rest that is to come, where there is no strife and no need to be tired or heavy laden.  And everyone does reach a point of being tired and burdened. Everyone needs rest. Even God himself rested. And by coming to Jesus, we are given God’s rest.

Coming to Jesus is not a onetime action.   Yes, we all need to come to Jesus to receive salvation, which is the starting point and initial gift of rest.  A ceasing of the striving of self.  We  need to continue coming to Jesus.  In this world, much is difficult and hard.  We can become labored and burdened without physical exertion.  Some of being labored and heavy laden comes in the looking out for self, in our own affairs. We get hurt, we have desires that go unmet, we struggle.  In fact, we all experience daily the impact of sin as the whole of creation has been impacted by sin.  The very act of coming to Jesus is at heart a turn from self-focus.  When you focus on being tired or burdened, it actually adds to the drain.  The more you focus on the state of self, the harder it becomes.  The very act of coming to Jesus changes focus.  Then when we actually surrender to Jesus and accept what He offers each of us, we are uplifted and refreshed.  Now the reader may state  “well tried that and there was no immediate relief.”  This can be true, for as Jesus will give us rest when we come, perceiving the rest is not always immediate but know that Jesus always keeps His word.  When you come to Jesus you will receive rest, in His time. He will give the rest if you come. This is fact. When you do not see or perceive it, trust this truth, for He who promised is faithful. When you come, He will give rest. Place you faith in this for it is assured!

Helpful Articles: Overcome so you are not overcome by Julie Markhausen

 
The following is commentary by Julie Marxhausen.  She is the pastor’s wife and part of the ministry team at Calvary Worship Center in Minnesota. The church is associated with International Ministerial Fellowship.  I ran across the commentary on her notes page on Facebook but since learned she posted on her own blog found here: http://julieamarxhausen.wordpress.com/2010/01/18/overcome-so-you-are-not-overcome/.
 
Overcome So You Are Not Overcome

As Christians, we have the unique privilege of overcoming all things this world, sin, and the devil throw our way. We need to be people who choose to overcome the things of this world so we can bring others into that same victory in Jesus and not be victims of this world. Overcoming and faith go hand in hand. We need to walk by faith, in order to be the kind of people who overcome. 1 John 5:4 says: “Whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.” It is our faith in Jesus Christ which enables us to overcome this world.

If we remain people who are tossed to and fro based upon the circumstances of life, we must conclude we are not living in faith because faith is victory, and faith victory has overcome the world. Before anyone gets guilt ridden or feels inadequate about their faith as a result of hearing this, let us remember our faith is a gift from God. He has given each of us a measure of faith. Romans 12:3 says “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” The point to be made is that if we are being tossed to and fro, and if we are not experiencing victory to overcome the world, we need look no further than our faith in Jesus. We can press in with God and His Word, refocus our attention, give our honor and praise to Him, and find ourselves exercising our God-given faith which will enable us to find ourselves IN Jesus once again. Our faith in Jesus overcomes the world.

There is a simple way to determine if we are among those who overcome and it is found 1 John 5:5 “Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? “ Many people “say” they believe in Jesus Christ, in fact even Satan believes Jesus is the Son of God. In a “Facebook” comment one lady remarked to some others witnessing the love of Jesus to her, “Wish you would stop trying to stuff Jesus and God down other people’s throats. It is f……sickening, a lot of us believe but do not need to go to church with a bunch of hypocrites to have that belief so just go away.” Does that sound like someone who believes in the greatest news on earth?

You see, believing is far more than simply acknowledging we know “of” Jesus. Satan acknowledges Who God is but will not accept the dominion of Jesus Christ. Many people do the same thing. They acknowledge who God is but do not submit to His Lordship in their lives. Therefore, simply “believing” in the basic essence of the word, is not what God is talking about here. “Believing” is the acceptance of everything about Jesus, acknowledging Him as God, as the only One who overcame the world, death, and the devil. Truly believing is “a knowing” at the seat of our desires, feelings, affections, passions, and impulses, that Jesus is the Son of God. Believing takes place in our hearts not just our minds. And it means accepting Him as Lord over our lives and then sharing our lives with those in the body of Christ. When we believe Jesus is the Son of God, when we have faith in God, we overcome. It is not an option. The Word says our faith overcomes the world. We may like to bring all the arguments against this since we don’t always experience the overcoming victory we expect to achieve, but that is only evidence our faith is still not grounded in Jesus.

One of my favorite verses on overcoming is found in Romans 8:37 (NASB) “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loves us.” Most versions are written, “We are more than conquerors.” We probably should know what “all these things” are. We are going to go through things while living on earth. Those things are: v. 35 – tribulations, distress, persecution, famine, nakednesss, peril, and sword. Tribulations would be things causing great stress and pressure or calamity. Distresses we experience include extreme circumstances where we feel there is no way of escape because it feels so narrow, including sickness and disease. Perhaps we suffer persecution for our faith in Jesus Christ even fearing attacks from people beyond mere words. We will also experience hardship, possibly lack of food, clothing and other dangers to our well-being.

Then verse 37 comes with the words “but” and “all”. But, in all of these things we overwhelmingly conquer. Christians almost daily proclaim, “I don’t know if I am going to make it through this one.” Or “It will take a move of God to get me through this.” Or “I just can’t take any more.” Or “I wonder if God is even watching me because He sure isn’t doing anything for me here.” We may feel all of things but at some point, we MUST stand up in the faith which gives us victory and proclaim “BUT in ALL these things I overwhelmingly conquer.” This is not simply defeating the enemy, it is a landslide beating.

When going through trials, persecutions and the like, people like to vent and get all the “bad” things” out. Perhaps they even convince themselves this is the way to get over something. What we do not realize is that in doing this, we only propagate the negative feelings, and we do it because we want sympathy or empathy. I am not suggesting we “fake” it and pretend all is well all the time. BUT, I am suggesting we speak the Word and do the Word rather than doing what feels good at the time.

Recently I was sad, frustrated, angry, and irritated with Christian people. This happens every so often so I recognize the feeling when it comes on me. I was feeling suffocated by the complaints and lack of faith I was hearing and seeing in the body of Christ. I am not insensitive or immune to the problems we all face in this world, but I am very sensitive to how we handle these problems. In my emotion I found myself discouraged and judgmental leaving me at the point of tears. Since I want to be a doer of the Word and not a hearer only, I knew I must overcome and experience victory through faith. I knew I had to get into the Word of God and allow Him to refresh, convict, and renew my thinking. I knew I was to intercess through Him, not vent to others, (which would only fuel my frustration). Knowing all of this, I knew I had to make the right decision but was I ready and willing to be obedient?

It is a choice to nurse negative feelings or move into a place of confession and repentance, allowing God to cleanse and wash allowing Him to take the burdens. I will admit I don’t always choose rightly. Most times I vent first and then go to God afterwards. Timing is everything! If I would go to God first, I can vent to Him and won’t have a need to vent to others. Oftentimes we hang on to these emotions for the sake of validity or we believe the emotions have a hold on us and they will just go away in time. But our victory comes through faith in Jesus, and our faith in Jesus includes being obedient to His will, and His will is firmly established and revealed in His Word and by His Spirit.

The next time trials and tribulations come, as they will, and you feel overwhelmed, remember you are more than a conqueror through Christ. Everything must bow to our holy God. Revelation 12:11 says “And they overcame him (the accuser of the brethren) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” Don’t settle for complaining and venting when you overwhelming conquer everything in this world through faith in Jesus Christ. In other words, overcome so you are not overcome. Overcome by faith in Jesus so the world does not overcome you!

Video Selections: You Gotta Tell Somebody- Don Franscico

This is a video  of  Don Fransico signing his song written from Jairus’s perspective related to looking to have Jesus heal his daughter, instead he raised her from death.  In viewing and listening to the song lots of think about.  Do we limit God?  Does we only praise God when victory is acheived?   How deep is our faith?  Do we truly believe that with God all things are possible?    Do testify to God’s working in our life?   How would you react if you were a mouner? 

Gotta tell Somebody – Don Francisco
     

She kept on getting weaker as day dragged into day
The doctors gave no hope for her; she seemed to fade away
My hours were filled with constant dread; time became a knife
That slowly and relentlessly cut the cord of life

There was a teacher in the region then some of us had heard
That He’d healed the paralytic by the power of just His Word
So with hope again rekindled I went at once to see
If I could find a man named Jesus from a town in Galilee

I began to search the city and soon I saw the crowd
They were pressing in to touch Him and they called His Name out loud
But with the strength of desperation I pushed them all aside
I through myself before Him and from my knees I cried

“Lord, come and heal my daughter, even now she’s close to death
Her fever’s uncontrollable, she fights for every breath
But God’s given You the power; life is Yours to give
If you’ll just lay Your hands on her I know that she will live”
(She will live, she will live)

Well, He’d just begun to go with me when a face I saw with fear
Came towards me with the news I knew I didn’t want to hear
And although I tried to steel myself I trembled when he said
“Why bother the Teacher anymore, your little girl is dead.”

Then Jesus touched my shoulder and He told me not to grieve
The trembling stopped when He looked at me and said, “Only believe”
Then He sent the crowds away except His closest men
And they followed right behind us as we started off again

But we were still a long ways down the road when I heard the sounds and cries
Of the mourners and musicians as they strove to dramatize
My grief they had no business with beneath their loud disguise
My wife just sat there silently and stared through empty eyes

Then Jesus asked the mourners, “Why is it that you weep?
She isn’t dead as you suppose, the child is just asleep.”
It only took a moment for their wails to turn to jeers
“Who does this man think he is? Get him out of here!”

With authority I’ve never heard in the lips of any man
He spoke and every sound rolled out with the thunder of command
And in the sudden silence they all hurried for the door
Wondering what the reasons were they’d ever come there for

Then He called his three disciples that were with Him on the way
He led them and my wife and me to where our daughter lay
He took her by the hand; He told her “Child, arise”
And the words were barely spoken when she opened up her eyes

She rose and walked across the room and stood there at our sides
My wife knelt down and held her close and at last she really cried
And then Jesus told us both to see that our daughter had some food
But as to how her life was saved, not to speak a word…
Not to speak a word…

I got to tell somebody
I got to tell somebody
I got to tell somebody
I got to tell somebody
I got to tell somebody, got to tell somebody, what Jesus did for me
I got to tell somebody, got to tell somebody, what Jesus did for me
I got to tell somebody, got to tell somebody, what Jesus did for me
I got to tell somebody, got to tell somebody, what Jesus did for me