Friday, April 29, 2016

lifting hands

Sometimes, the only thing that makes sense is to lift our hands in the air & say this...

Psalm 100

1 Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth!
2   Worship the LORD with gladness.
  Come before him, singing with joy.
3 Acknowledge that the LORD is God!
  He made us, and we are his.
  We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
  go into his courts with praise.
  Give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the LORD is good.
  His unfailing love continues forever,
  and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

don't worry

I just thought we all needed to read this today

Matthew 6

19 "Don't store up treasures here on earth,

where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.

20 Store your treasures in heaven,

where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.

21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

  22 "Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body.

When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light.

23 But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness.

And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!

  24 "No one can serve two masters.

For you will hate one and love the other;

you will be devoted to one and despise the other.

You cannot serve both God and money.

25 "That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life;

whether you have enough food and drink,

or enough clothes to wear.

Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing?

26 Look at the birds.

They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns,

for your heavenly Father feeds them.

And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are?

27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

  28 "And why worry about your clothing?

Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow.

They don't work or make their clothing,

29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.

30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you.

Why do you have so little faith?

  31 "So don't worry about these things, saying,

'What will we eat?

What will we drink?

What will we wear?'

32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers,

but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.

33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else,

and live righteously,

and he will give you everything you need.

34 "So don't worry about tomorrow,

for tomorrow will bring its own worries.

Today's trouble is enough for today.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

weakness vs strength

2 Corinthians 12

7b So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh,

a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.

8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.

9 Each time he said,

"My grace is all you need.

My power works best in weakness."

So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses,

so that the power of Christ can work through me.

10 That's why I take pleasure in my weaknesses,

and in the insults,



and troubles that I suffer for Christ.

For when I am weak, then I am strong.

The exact nature of what Paul considered his “thorn in the flesh” isn't known.

I googled it & found a number of opinions from an illness to people who persecuted him.

I'm not sure the nature of it is the important thing.

The important thing is, whatever is was, God said that His grace was all Paul needed in the situation.

iow, whatever it was, God was going to sustain Paul through it.

God basically said to Paul that since there wasn't anything Paul could do, Paul would have to totally rely on God in the situation.

And God told Paul that the strength God would send Paul to handle it would be unimpeded by Paul, who was too weak in the situation to handle it.

We're into power.

We're also in to being self-sufficient.

But in this situation, Paul's situation was an opportunity for God to demonstrate Who was in control, & Who was the one Who made Paul equal to the task of dealing with this “thorn.”

Paul goes on to say that he had learned that when he was weak – iow, when he couldn't handle a situation on his own power – God was able to work more easily & efficiently.

What does this have to say to us?

I think it tells us that in every situation, whether we're able to handle it or not, God is the One who gives us the ability to face it.

And when we seem the weakest, the least powerful & capable, that is exactly when God steps in an imbues us with the power & sufficiency for the moment & task.

iow, God has our back, & gives us the power to be & do whatever it is He was us to be & do.

Think about that today, & how we might apply that to day to day situations...

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Club Med

2 Corinthians 11

23bI have worked harder,

been put in prison more often,

been whipped times without number,

and faced death again and again.

24 Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes.

25 Three times I was beaten with rods.

Once I was stoned.

Three times I was shipwrecked.

Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea.

26 I have traveled on many long journeys.

I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers.

I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles.

I have faced danger in the cities,

in the deserts,

and on the seas.

And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not.

27 I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights.

I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food.

I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.

  28 Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches.

29 Who is weak without my feeling that weakness?

Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger?

  30 If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am.

31 God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, who is worthy of eternal praise, knows I am not lying.

32 When I was in Damascus, the governor under King Aretas kept guards at the city gates to catch me.

33 I had to be lowered in a basket through a window in the city wall to escape from him.

This passage ALWAYS makes me chuckle.

How many of us would continue to be & do who we are if we suffered just ONE of the things that happened to Paul during his life in service to God?

In a day when we heard many people gripe & complain about how persecuted we are, it's interesting to juxtapose that with the actual life events Paul endured as a follower of Jesus, actively seeking opportunity to share His good news.

It seems we scream & cuss when our precious & prissy lives are something less that a Club Med / American Dream / successful existence.

A life of service that God calls us to be & do one thing – serve.

Sometimes that makes our lives a little less than a summer at a Sandals resort.

But many have a very strong but erroneous concept that being a servant of the Lord is supposed to be something of an all-inclusive holiday.

I don't think so.

Let's all look at our lives and ask ourselves if we would claim allegiance to Jesus if our life was spent in much of the same vein as Paul mentions his life to be like.

Does our life have to suffer true persecution like Paul's to be able to claim to be true & real.


But neither does it have to exemplify the American Dream & move from one glittering level to another.

Just think about it today....

Monday, April 25, 2016


Here on earth you will have many trials. But take heart, for I have overcome the world.

John 16:33b

Jesus said this to His disciples late on the night before He died.

They had left the upper room where they had observed the Passover.

They were headed to the Garden of Gethsemane.

All along the way, Jesus had been stopping & starting an ongoing narrative;

kind of a series of last minute instructions, encouragements, & warnings.

Jesus knew what kind of despair His disciples would face in the next few days.

Their whole world would come crashing down.

But with these few words, He encourages them, in the hopes they will remember what He said, as they was through His death but also experience His resurrection.

But was Jesus just talking about those 3 days?

Probably not.

He also knew what His disciples would face in the days, months, & years ahead.

He knew all the stuff they would face,

He knew all the people they would encounter,

& He saw all the things the devil would fling at them over time to discourage & defeat them.

He wanted to tell them something they could hold on to.

But was Jesus just talking to His disciples?

Probably not.

I'm sure Jesus knew that John would record what He, Jesus, had said.

Jesus knew & knows all the stuff we each would face,

& the people we would & will encounter,

& saw & sees all the things the devil would & will fling at us over time to discourage & defeat us.

Jesus has told us something to hold on to as we walk through this life.

He tells us He's got our back.

All those things that try to overcome us He has already overcome for us.

How does that work?

I just now googled “overcome”.

It's defined as:

succeeding in dealing with a problem or difficulty,

defeating or prevailing over some one or some thing.

Jesus says He's dealt with the the things we face.

He knows whats going on in our lives, & will know what will happen.

He knows we're having & gonna have all kinds of stuff happen to us.

Some translations have Him saying, “fear not”,

or “be of good cheer”,

or “be brave”,

or “never lose heart”.

He has the situation under control.

I don't know where you are in your life.

I know that I need to read those words every day.

Maybe you can hold on to those words, too,

as you pass through life with it's up & downs,

triumphs & crashes,

good times & bad.

Maybe I should have that tattooed on one side on my ribs, or maybe on my chest.

Hmmmm... That might be problematic.

If I start doing that, given all the verses in the Bible I hang on to, I think I'm gonna quickly run out of space!

I'd end up with 2 sleeves, 2 legs, & a torso front & back!!!

Never mind...

Maybe I'll just memorize it ;-)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

17 tremendous verses

I don't know how many of you have read John 15. It's pretty amazing.

Remember that these are some of the things Jesus said to His disciples after the Passover meal, as He walked along in the dark of night to the Garden of Gethsemane,

He knew it was a matter of a few hours before He would be taken from them & killed.

I don't think He was speaking in hyperbole, nor was He micing words with the disciples as they walked along.

I could imagine them walking along & then Jesus stopping & saying something else to them.

But evidently these words were some of what John remembered from that night. I'm sure there were more which he didn't record.

But brace yourself – these 17 verses – about 66% of what He said in chapter 15 – are earth shaking.

Read it once or twice right now – 3 times would be better.

And then read it every day for the next week.

Just saying...

John 15

1 "I am the true grapevine,

and my Father is the gardener.

2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn't produce fruit,

and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.

(dan note: I've always found that part of verse 2 interesting – we often look at God's “pruning” in our lives more as punishment rather than affirmation.)

3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.

4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you.

For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine,

and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.  

5 "Yes, I am the vine;

you are the branches.

Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit.

For apart from me you can do nothing.

6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers.

Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.

7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you,

you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!

8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples.

This brings great glory to my Father.

  9 "I have loved you even as the Father has loved me.

Remain in my love.

10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love,

just as I obey my Father's commandments and remain in his love.

11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy.

Yes, your joy will overflow!

12 This is my commandment:

Love each other in the same way I have loved you.

13 There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends.

14 You are my friends if you do what I command.

15 I no longer call you slaves,

because a master doesn't confide in his slaves.

Now you are my friends,

since I have told you everything the Father told me.

16 You didn't choose me.

I chose you.

I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit,

so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.

17 This is my command: Love each other.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

wrapping it up

Jesus knows He's going in be dead the next day, after an arrest, beatings, a humiliating trial, & then death by crucifixion.

In John 14, we find all kinds of incredible things that Jesus said to His disciples before the Passover meal broke up & the went to the Garden of Gethsemane.

Jesus isn't mincing words here. He knows He's got a short time to tell them a whole lot of stuff, & hopefully they will remember it over the next 3 days.

Here's some verses that really stick out for me in John 14, the account of the after dinner conversation Jesus had with His disciples in the upper room where they'd observed the Passover...

John 14

1 "Don't let your hearts be troubled.

Trust in God,

and trust also in me.

2 There is more than enough room in my Father's home.

If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?

3 When everything is ready,

I will come and get you,

so that you will always be with me where I am.

(dan note: we usually only hear these verses at funerals, but they work for everyday life!)

  6 Jesus told (Thomas),

"I am the way, the truth, and the life.

No one can come to the Father except through me.

(dan note: well, so much for the thinking that says “all paths lead to God” &/or “Jesus isn't the only way we can connect to God”.)

7 If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is.

From now on, you do know him and have seen him!"

  9b Jesus replied... “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!

10b The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me.

11 Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.

Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do.

12 "I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done,

and even greater works,

because I am going to be with the Father.

(dan note: now if we REALLY believe what Jesus says in verse 12, our hair should be on fire RIGHT NOW!!! Jesus said we'd not only do the stuff He did, but even more stupendous & miraculous stuff! Think about THAT!!! Zowds!!!)

13 You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it,

so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.

14 Yes, ask me for anything in my name,

and I will do it!

(dan note: I don't think this means God is some sort of heavenly vending machine. At the same time, I think we underestimate what a willing resource our Father is, especially if what we are asking we ask He be & do not for our puny, prissy little selves, but for His Son, Jesus!)

15 "If you love me, obey my commandments.

(dan note: ok, so there you have it – Jesus plainly says if we claim to have this up front, intimate, strong connection with Him – a relation ship built on love – then we need to be do what He says to do & be what He says we ought to be.
Be careful before we buy into this thinking, because be & doing what Jesus told us to be & do is a pretty tall order!))

16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate,

who will never leave you.

17a He is the Holy Spirit,

who leads into all truth.

(dan note: Jesus tells his disciples they are getting an eternally present personage that will not only connect with them forever, but will also show them the reality of what is right & good.)

18 No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.

21 Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me.

And because they love me, my Father will love them.

And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them."

(dan note: no way to get around it – a connection with the Father & with Jesus is first & foremost of all a relationship built on LOVE.)

  23 Jesus replied, "All who love me will do what I say.

(dan note: there you have it again – if we really do love & care about Jesus & who He is, we'll be & do the things he said to be & do.)

My Father will love them,

and we will come and make our home with each of them.

(dan note: here's an incredible thought, both for that time, & for now: the Father & Jesus will “make themselves to home” in us – something no other religion promises.)

24 Anyone who doesn't love me will not obey me.

(There's that obedience thing again – this time expressed in the negative – if we don't obey Jesus, then we just don't love Him!)

And remember, my words are not my own.

What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me.

25 I am telling you these things now while I am still with you.

26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative;

that is, the Holy Spirit;

he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.
(dan note: here Jesus promises the Holy Spirit will show us what everything means & what Jesus said in many ways & in many different circumstances all shakes out to be.)

27 "I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart.

And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.

So don't be troubled or afraid.

(dan note: and then Jesus drops a truth bomb on them – in a world that is SUCH a crazy insane precarious place, Jesus leaves us with a connection & a surety that is so complete that it brings us peace in mind & heart.
And He says that as we live in that peace, we don't need to be stressed out, scared, or overwhelmed by the immense craziness of life here on earth.)

Like I said,

Jesus had some BIG stuff to unload on the disciples that night,

for not only their benefit in those next devastating 3 days that encompassed SO MUCH,

but also for our lives in the 2nd half of the 2nd decade of the 21st century since His death & resurrection.

Friday, April 22, 2016

one trait

John 13

34 So now I am giving you a new commandment:

Love each other.

Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.

35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples."

Jesus said this to his disciples in the upper room that they used in which to observe the Passover.

This was the night before He died.

I doubt if He was speaking in a hyperbole – I think He was being pretty straightforward – time was short, He had a lot left to say to them.

So we're to love each other.

We're supposed to love each other like Jesus loves us.

And the quality of that love that we demonstrate will be the defining factor when people think of what a follower of Jesus is.

Is that what the world automatically thinks of when someone is described as a Christian?

Do they think, “well, if that person is a Christian, then they must be a pretty loving person.”

We all know the answer to that question.

And we all know why.

What does it mean to love someone?

Does it mean that we accept & condone everything about them?

I don't think so.

Do we have to embrace & legitimize all that they are & do?

Well, of course not.

Then what does it mean?

Maybe it means that we care about them & care for them.

Maybe it means that we learn to see them as Jesus does – flawed, sinful people that whose created identity is pretty amazing– an original identity was created by God.

Maybe it means we love & care about them the way we have needed to be loved & cared about.

Maybe it means that we've got the backs of the people we come in contact with.

Maybe it means we're there for those same people.

Maybe it means that we just care.

But one thing is for certain...

on the last night before He was killed,

during some of the last conversations Jesus has with the people closest to Him,

Jesus said there is one trait that the world would recognize in the people who say they follow Him,

and the one trait is that we love them.

I think we may need to make some adjustments in our priorities.

I think we may need to rethink who & what we supposed to be & do in this, the 2nd half of the 2nd decade of the 21st century.