Tag Archives: Jesus

Where’s the Path?

It’s a hollow, panicky feeling when you are in the back country, hiking along and suddenly realize you are not on the trail.  You look around, trying to spot the path, unsure of where you lost it.  You start backtracking, bushwhacking and stumbling, until at last you see it.  Once you are back on the trail, the hike is so much easier, and it reliably leads to the place you are trying to get to.   Lose the path and you are on your own.

David was a shepherd and spent a lot of time in the back country.  He knew about paths.  As he became more acquainted with God, he realized the truth about paths was also true with God’s paths.  He wrote:

Show me your ways, O LORD,
teach me your paths;
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.  –  (Ps 25:4–5)

If you follow God’s paths, the journey is easier and reliably gets you where you want to go.  Leave the path and you are on your own.  It’s true for individuals and it is true for whole nations.  The nation of Israel had to learn that lesson repeatedly.  They would leave the path, fall into ruin, go back and find the path, recover, and then quickly forget.  The cycle would begin again.  I am convinced we in the US are in the process of learning this same lesson.

Quotes: The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). . Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Dealing with the Truth

How do you respond to criticism?  My first reaction isn’t constructive, I must confess.  I want to argue or fight back.  But after letting my negativity subside, I’ve discovered it often helps to ask pertinent questions, to let the truth soak in deeper and have its way with me.

If you haven’t already listened to the short audio messages I posted earlier in the week, here are the links again.  They are about how Jesus used parables to sneak past our defenses with  tough truth:

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To let this parable have its way with you, here are some of the kinds of questions you might  ask:

  • In what sense is teaching from God like a seed?
  • What influences in our world tend to make our “soil” hard, so that His truth bounces off?
  • What is the danger of religion that focuses mostly on drumming up emotional fervor?
  • How much hard work does a seed expend in order to be fruitful?
  • If none, then what does it do?  How is the fruit produced?
  • How are your eyes and ears; do you have defenses to shield you from God’s dangerous truth?
  • If so, what will you do about those defenses?

Listen at Your Own Risk

When Jesus told a parable, it was a time-release gotcha, His version of a Trojan Horse.  He’d light the fuse on what looked like a nice little story and slide it right past the people’s defenses.  Too late, they’d realize His stories were aimed at them, at their bone-headed stupidity or wickedness.

As an experiment, this week I’ve edited an audio message about one of His parables into five chunks, each about 5 minutes long or so, thinking you might spread them out and listen to them during the week. You will discover His seemingly harmless story springs its trap just as effectively today as it did when He first told it.  So, you have been warned: Listen at your own risk.  Here they are the audio links.  Take your time and work your way through these chunks in order:

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If  you are willing, let me know how you respond to blog messages in audio form.  They are more work on this end, but worth it to me, if they work for you,

Danger! Parables at Work

Would Jesus deliberately disguise or hide the truth from some people?  That’s a question His disciples asked and you might be surprised at the answer.  If you have a bible, turn to the 13th chapter of Matthew and listen to the audio clips below.  I’ve sliced and diced an original message into 5 bite-sized chunks, so you can fit them into your schedule flexibly

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It would be helpful to me to know how this different blog format worked for you.  Did you have any problems listening?  Were the individual sections too long or too short?  Any other suggestions or feedback?  I may not be able to respond or post all of the responses, but please know I’ll read them and take them into consideration.

No Small Thing

If I told you how God intervened in my life a couple of days ago, you might think I was gullible or naive.  It was a simple little thing – (OK, it had something to do with hubcaps) – nothing like parting the Red Sea.  But I know Who pulled it off.  I call those brief encounters with God’s grace, winks.  He winks at me and lets me know He’s there and He cares.

Have you ever thought a situation you faced was too small to trouble God with, too silly for prayer?  Consider: Is there anything you face that isn’t small to God?  Check out these words of Jesus:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.   So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”  –  (Matthew 10:29-31)

God invites us, through Jesus, into an intimate relationship, in which we walk together through the circumstances of life. As we do, we are humbled to discover God cares about how we are doing – even about the “little” things

Knowing He cares makes the tough experiences more “doable.”  Jesus spoke those words as He told His followers not to be afraid to tell people about Him, even in the face of physical violence.  Because God cares and He intervenes or not, depending on what is best.

Taproot – Part 4

“I command you to love me!”  That’s a non-starter, isn’t it?  The greatest commandment, Jesus said, is to love God with all your heart and soul.  But, can love be commanded?  But, instead of hearing the word, command, as a strict order to do something we don’t want to do, think of it like this: This “command” is the most important thing to remember to practice so that things will go well for you. 

God’s 10 commandments were given after He first had arranged a rescue for the people from slavery. 

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”  –  (Deuteronomy 5:6)

His commands were given to protect us from falling back into any kind of slavery.  In other words, His commands were given to bless us.

Walk in all the way that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.”

“Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, promised you.”  –  (Deuteronomy 5:33; 6:3)

Our love for God is not grudging and forced, it is the natural response toward our Rescuer who loves us and wants the very best for us.  Our love for God is reflected in our paying attention to how He taught us to live, loving and honoring  Him by obeying.  As John said it, “We love because he first loved us.” – (1John 4:19)

The same is true of our love for Jesus, Who rescued us from spiritual slavery to live life to the fullest.

Taproot – Part 3

Are you afraid to love, believing it will constrain you?  Certainly some neurotic relationships constrain us, but these are not real love.  Real love releases false constraints, setting us free to be all we really are.  That is the kind  of love relationship God wants for us with Himself (See: previous two posts).

It seems counterintuitive: How can submitting to a relationship with someone else, making a commitment, result in more freedom?  Picture those flying suits people wear to jump from high cliffs and soar.  It is strapping oneself into the tight bonds of the suit that allows the freedom to fly.  Additionally, unless they fully commit and jump, they will not fly but fall.  Love works like that, especially love mutually extended between you and God. 

You can see the relationship between love, commitment and freedom in the following two quotes from Jesus.

“Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”   –  (John 14:23)

The word, “obey,” makes us cautious and reluctant, but it is that commitment that leads to freedom.  The Father and Son come and “make their home” with us.  This happens with the life of the Holy Spirit in our souls.  The word for “make their home”, also translated as “abide” is used in this saying of Jesus:

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to (literally, abide or make your home in…) my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  –  (John 8:31-32 with my added note)

It is the love commitment of making one’s home in the teachings of Jesus, the ways of God, that causes us to soar in freedom.  Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10b) 

If you are standing at the edge of that cliff, worried that loving God will inhibit you or constrain you, do not hesitate;  Go for it!  Fully commit and watch how this relationship of love spreads your wings.