My Most Important Blog EVER

2021-01-30 News AnchorNews hits us faster than we can absorb it.  This began with television reporting back in the 60s and 70s of the last century.  The joke about our level of engagement came with a news anchor announcing, with a bright smile, “10 killed in hit-and-run on Broadway, film at 11.”

We are saturated 24/7, 1,440 minutes per day, with available information any time we look at our watches, phones or computers, most of which is unrelated to our daily lives, very little about which we can do anything, and most without consequence for any length of time, only lasting until the next broadcast or posting on social media.

But there IS something that matters, something integrally related to your life, something over which you have complete control, something that will last for all eternity: 
What will you do about the claims of Jesus, called the Christ? 

Jesus is the focal point of history, changing for over half the world the way we count the days of our lives ever since shortly after He walked on earth.  And He made some pretty audacious claims, so auspicious that I capitalize pronouns when I refer to Him.  Nothing particularly holy about capitalization, but simply to reflect that He is higher, better, greater (every positive superlative of which you can think) than any other human, past, present or future.

To understand who Jesus claimed to be one must read His biographies, which we call the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the first four books of the New Testament. (Many online sources are available and each one can be read in your native language in less than an hour; my favorite source is at Biblegateway.com where you can see if your language is listed.)

Even those who do not trust Him as what He claimed to be admit something unusual happened after He left the world, something that transformed His followers from meek and frightened, politically disenfranchised jellyfish to robust and daring defenders of what they had experienced.  What they experienced is recorded in Matthew 28, John 16 and 20, and Acts 1 and 2.  And all but one of them died rather than recant; only John survived to old age, but that was in exile on a prison island.

These disciples who had deserted Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, are next seen hiding in quiet rooms, afraid the High Priest, Sanhedrin or Roman authorities might be coming after them next.  Their political aspirations were dead, their leader had been crucified and the Jewish leaders had ensured that none of the disciples could steal His body.  They were confused and dismayed that the One they expected to lead Israel to international prominence, even over the Roman Empire, was dead and buried in a Roman-guarded sealed tomb.  How much worse could it get!?

But rather than getting worse, some women went to the grave in which Jesus was buried and found it empty, encountering angels who declared, He is not here, for He has risen!”  Mary Magdalene, hardly an archetype of integrity, did not believe the angels and came at first to announce to the disciples, who were cowering in their chamber, that the tomb was empty.  Two of the disciples, Peter and John, ran to the tomb to see for themselves and also found it empty.   But then Jesus met Mary Magdalene in the garden where His tomb was and showed her that He was alive!  A couple of others returned from Emmaeus and said they had seen Jesus alive!

In all of these encounters, the ones who knew Jesus best resisted the stories and did not understand the Old Testament scriptures and refused to believe tales of seeing Jesus.  They still could not think of the things He had taught them about His death!  It was just too much for a rational brain to take in . . . until He appeared to them in a locked room.  (They were still afraid and could not sort through the events that were happening faster than the Fall of the Berlin Wall in modern times.)   But when Jesus appeared to them, He showed them His wounds from the crucifixion and they finally believed.

So what did He claim about Himself? 
That He is the bread of life that came down from Heaven.
That He is the light of the world.
That He is the good shepherd.
That He is the resurrection and life.
That He is teacher and Lord.
That He is the way, the truth and the life.
That He is the true vine.
That He is not from this earth.
That He is King of the Jews.
That He is The I Am!  This is arguably His most significant claim to be God, as He claimed to be one with Father, the I AM.

2021-01-30 I AM

This short blog does not allow nearly adequate space for me to show you from the Bible all that it teaches of who Jesus is, but you are all intelligent and capable learned people.  Hey, you access a computer and blog! 😉  So do not take my word alone for this.  Read the Gospels and discover for yourself if you can trust this Jesus to be what He claimed to be.  What will you do?  You MUST do something, either admit these to be true or reject them to be false.  There is no middle ground.

If you believe, the next step is to receive HimJohn 1:12 says, “To all who receive him, who believe in his name, he gives the right to become children of God.”  Picture you came to my home and I offered to feed you dinner.  You could believe I was going to provide a meal; you could thank me for it; we could sit at the table together and talk about the food in front of us . . . but if you did not reach out and take the food, you would leave my home as empty as when you came.

So, first, reach out in your heart and mind to Jesus.  He is God and knows what is in your heart and thoughts even before you say it.  So invite Him to come and live in you.  Admit you are a sinner and have not let Him rule your life yet.  Turn away (repent) from your self-guided life and tell Jesus that you will trust Him to lead the rest of your life.  Do not worry that you are not perfect, or that you do not understand all this yet.  Simply trust Him that He will come live in you and begin to work in you to perform His will.  There are no special formulas for praying.  Just talk to Him as you would your own earthly father.

Secondly, if you decide to do this, the next step is to begin reading the Bible.  It is His directive to us, an ultimate guide for life and practice.  Do not be intimidated by the size (it is actually a library collection of small books; just take one at a time.)  There are numerous Bible-reading “plans” you can access, but just read!

Thirdly, if you talked with Jesus to invite Him to live in you, you have begun to pray.  Keep it up.  Again, there are lots of books and helps for praying, but remember, it does not take any special language.  Plus, as you get to know Jesus better (not just know about Him, but know HIM), you will find prayer is not just you talking to God.  In times of His choosing, He will talk to you!  Although the value of prayer cannot be measured by its volume, it can safely be said that prayer is valueless if you do not pray.  Make time to pray.

Lastly, God does not call “Lone Ranger Christians.”  Find a community of people who are seeking and experiencing the Presence of God.  Some will be phony; some will be misguided or misinformed; some will be manipulative; some will be dishonest; but you need them as much as they need you.  And as you pray and read the Bible, you will grow in grace and in knowledge of our Lord and your Savior, Jesus Christ.

Certainly, there is no requirement or expectation for you to contact me regarding your Journey into Faith, but if you want to contact me, please feel free to email me at capost3k@gmail.com.  No question is off limits.

Finally, let me assure you from many years of Bible study and examination of world religions from Atheism to Zoroastrianism, from Buddhism to Hinduism to Islam to Jainism, there is no intellectual reason for rejecting the claims of Jesus.  There is no text more authentically relayed to our generation than the Bible.  There is no way to get to know who God is, other than through the God-Man, Jesus.

Carry Your Weight – 7. Disciplines of a Spirit-led Life: Community

At 14 years old, I was a scrawny kid.  All elbows, knees and skinny limbs.  I could not gain weight even if my life had depended on it.  One afternoon I was working in the hot sun with my dad and his tree-trimming partners, Bill and Marion.  Both men and my dad had muscles from many years of heavy work.  We had taken out a huge tree in this lady’s yard, and I had scrambled to keep their chain saws gassed and ropes untangled.

log-lifter
Log Lifter!

Now we were loading four foot (1.3M) logs that were about 36 inches (~1M) in diameter; BIG logs, about 1100 pounds (500Kg)!!  My dad, his two partners and I were pushing them up a ramp into his pickup truck, and as we heaved and sweated, the thought came into my empty head that my flimsy muscles were not doing anything, so I relaxed for a moment . . . and the log we were pushing almost rolled down on top of Bill!!

He glared at me and yelled, “Hey, push, you idiot!”  I immediately jumped back into position and with all my weight against the log, helped load it into the pickup.  Bill continued glaring at me after we had finished and asked, “What did you think you were doing, letting that log almost roll back!  Carry your weight, boy!”

Bill Kenny, one of God’s great men I have been privileged to know, had no idea how proud he made me feel that day!  Having had such a low opinion of my “weight” against that log, I really thought the men had been using me as “window-dressing;” not really needed, but like a little kid, being allowed to look like I was.  When he glared at me, it signaled to me that I did carry weight; that I was needed to load that truck!

Steve Elliott, referring to Acts 5:15, recently phrased it this way: “Not many of us will be chosen to be famous or great like Peter, but we each have a shadow.  On who does your shadow fall, and what is its effect?”  Being part of the Church of Jesus is not optional for the Christ-follower, but a vital part of our learning to walk in the Spirit.  “Let me stress this is not just a comfortable thought.  It is a vital factor in the life of God’s people . . . The Bible does not say that the Church is like a body, but it is the Body of Christ.”  Watchmen Nee, The Normal Christian Life

Being part of the Church of Jesus requires being part of a local group of believers.  Hebrews instructs us to “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)  In fact, most of the New Testament instructions have to do with getting along with others who are trying to live in God’s grace.  It involves being in the lives of others who are either there to help us, or being in the lives of others we are there to help.

I cannot emphasize enough that this participation in the Body of Christ is no more optional than your big toe’s participation in being part of your foot.  Granted, if you lost it to frost bite, your body could still survive, but it would be clear every time you went swimming that something was missing!  As the Elliott quote above points out, most of us are not important parts of the Body.  If an eye was destroyed, or if you lost a thumb, you would notice it much more, but the fact remains that every part of the Body is a part, and to be a healthy body, every part is needed.

1 Corinthians 12 gives an excellent and clearly written exposition of this concept, better than anything I could write, so I commend you to that chapter, and read it with chapter 13 to understand the “more excellent way” to participate in the Body of Christ.  Sandwiched between chapters 12 and 14, which give instructions on the use of spiritual gifts is this “love chapter” that emphasizes any and all gifts, abilities or authority exercised in the fellowship of the believers must be done from a motive of love.  If such a gift, ability or authority is exercised out of any other motive, even if it appears miraculous and auspicious, it is nothing more than a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

There are then two reasons for joining a group of believers:
1)  There are times I need encouragement.  There are times I need prayer. There are times I need advice, or correction, or a friendly hand, or even times I need to be rebuked.  All times that I need something.  And it is in fellowship in a church, whether in someone’s home, a cathedral, or an evangelical meeting, that these things are provided for me.
2)  Then there are times I can give encouragement.  There are times I can pray for someone.  There are times I can give advice, or correction, or a friendly hand, or even times I may need to rebuke someone.  All times that I can give something.  And it is in fellowship, again, whether in someone’s home, a cathedral, or in an evangelical meeting that I can give.

So get behind that log, and carry your weight!  And challenge me to carry mine!

Next week, February 27, 2017, we will look at some basics about salvation, The Good News, Plain and Simple, to make sure no one makes a mistake of thinking that observing these spiritual disciplines earns Heaven.