The Shortest Verse has BIG Meaning

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No, I haven’t read this book.

Quick, what’s the shortest verse in the Bible?

Answer: John 11:35, “Jesus wept.”

It’s one of those weird Christian trivia answers every believer knows. It’s kind of a funny joke you can throw into any overly theological conversation to lighten the mood:

Bob: “Yeah, but remember John 11:35?”

Paul: “What does ‘Jesus wept’ have to do with election?”

Bob: “Um…nothing. You wanna go get a cheeseburger?”

Jesus wept seems like a sidebar of sorts. It’s one minor detail into the larger story of Lazarus being raised from the dead. Or is it? Continue reading

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Faith is a Fight

SwitchesA light switch. They turn on lights. (Thank you Captain Obvious!) In some avenue of my brain I used to think faith in God was like a light switch. You simply quoted a verse or truth about God and then moved on with your life, newly refreshed and built up in your faith. If you’re struggling with worry, no problem, simply quote Philippians 4:6-7 to yourself and move on as a non-worrying individual.

As I grow older, and hopefully more mature, I’ve realized faith is not a light switch. It’s not something you flip off and on with the quotation of a verse or two. No, walking with God by faith in the nitty-gritty of life, suffering, sin, doubt, and struggle is a fight you must engage in at all times so as not to surrender any ground. Walking with God by faith is sometimes a knock-down, drag-out fight. Continue reading

A Serious Problem for Parents Everywhere

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I want to talk with you today about a very troubling subject. It’s an issue all people, particularly parents, have to deal with. It can destroy a person’s sanity. It can wreck your house, car, or any public area. I’m talking of course about Goo. I’m writing this highly scientific article (ahem) in the hopes of educating you all about the dangers of Goo and to prepare you to properly respond to the spread of Goo in your home, school, church, and neighborhood.

For those of you who may not be aware of Goo, let me enlighten you about this dangerous and stress producing substance.

Goo is qualified as any sticky, crumbly, or messy substance produced or left behind by children. Examples of Goo are graham cracker bits on carpets, hand prints on mirrors, left over raisins in car seats, and of course, boogers. The list of items which qualify as Goo is endless. If it’s wet, sticky, gooey, trashy, or not designed for a certain area of the house, then it’s probably Goo. Continue reading

The Game All of Us Must Play

game_of_life_wheel_by_anya82-d63vf88We were trying to get in the car to leave the gym. I was putting my son into his booster seat, trying to navigate between the two month old raisin goo on his straps and the three week old animal crackers in his seat. If I had to choose I would rather touch the crackers than the raisin goo. Parenting: Living the dream, baby! Then I noticed my oldest daughter was not in the car. I looked up and saw her crying in my wife’s arms. The look on my wife’s face told me, the ever astute husband, this might be important.

I came to find out my daughter had thought something mean and ugly about another person at the gym. Now her sensitive little conscience was mauling her. Being bothered when you do something wrong is good, but her conscience wasn’t just pricking her, it was beating her over the head with a mallet. She felt guilty, shamed, and hopeless as only emotional little girls can. (This isn’t a slight against the female sex. Rather it’s a recognition that most men have the emotional capacity of tadpoles).

My daughter was overwhelmed with thoughts of guilt and was feeling that she was some sort of hopeless, horrible person who thought mean things about other people. She cried uncontrollably. What were we, as parents, to do?

My daughter doesn’t know it, but she’s entered the stage in her life where she has to now play the game. It’s a game we all have to play. Some of us start earlier than others, but everyone has to play eventually. Unfortunately this game doesn’t ever stop. We have to play until we die. There’s no opting out and no substitutions. Adam and Eve were the first to play, and man has been playing ever since.

In our lives we are ever surrounded, bombarded, and flooded with information, thoughts, and feelings. We are told how one should dress and feel, what is pretty, trendy, and valuable. We’re told what is good, bad, and ugly in the world in which we live. Thoughts about life, sex, money, purpose, and rightness are sprayed all over us like sprinkler watering a lawn.

The game could go by various names, but I like to call it the “What is True?” game. Our role in the game is to determine, among all we hear, what is true. Whether or not we “win” the game is determined by how we sift through all of the information we’re inundated with to live by what is really true.

The psalmist said, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path,” (Ps. 119:105). Paul told the Romans, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect,” (Rom. 12:2). Our challenge in the game is to sift our thoughts and feelings through the filter of the Scriptures so we may walk in the truth and not be deceived by the lies of the world.

PriceAdam and Eve were the first to fail in this game. They believed the lies of the serpent. They believed God wasn’t good and that he was holding out on them. What did they get for losing the game? Sin entered the world and the hearts of men. Oh boy! Sin! Death! Corruption! It’s more exciting than the Price is Right…that is, if the Price is Right gave bad prizes…and if Bob Barker was the devil…never mind, bad illustration.

So what is my daughter to do? How do my wife and I help her win the game? We remind her of truth: there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, (Rom. 8:1), God is faithful to forgive us when we confess our sins to him, (1 John 1:9), and nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, (Rom. 8:38-39). We remind her, so even at a young age, she can begin to play and win the game.

So how are you doing in the game? Ask yourself what is the truth about marriage, life, sexuality, success, purpose, money, and fulfillment. What has God said? What is the serpent saying? How can you better prepare yourself to win the game?

Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully on the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” (1 Peter 1:13, NKJV).

And remember to watch out for raisin goo.

The Mirror Shows an Amazing Image

Mirror_babyToday’s blog is interactive. In order to read you’ll have to follow instructions. If you play along you may or may not win a bag of Doritos.

So here’s the interactive instruction: Go look in the mirror. What do you see? In my case I see the image of a 35 year old man who needs a shave. What do you see? Unless you’re a vampire you should see a reflection of yourself. The mirror shows us an “image” of ourselves. What we see is not necessarily us, but it’s an image, a reflection of who we are. What do you say an image is, Mr. Webster?

Mr. Webster: An “image” is “a reproduction or imitation of the form of a person or thing.”

Me: Thank you, Mr. Webster. Good answer.

Mr. Webster: You’re welcome. I thought so too.

In Genesis 1:26-27, God says he made man in his own image. The word “image” is used three times. “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…so God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Hmm, I’m not sure, but methinks this image concept is important.

Just as the mirror shows your image, humans reveal the image, or likeness, of God. Whoa baby! This sounds deep. You’re right. Humans are the only creatures who bear the image of God. God made a whole bunch of other stuff before he shared his likeness with anything. Raccoons have really cool faces, but they don’t have God’s image. Bananas are tasty and monkey’s like them, but they don’t have God’s image. Lions are the king of the jungle, but they don’t share God’s image, (except Aslan). Only men and women share the image of God.  We are unique in all of creation as image bearers.

So what does this mean? It means you and I have incredible significance and value. It doesn’t matter whether our “image” in the mirror shows a few too many pounds, too many gray hairs, or no hair whatsoever, (I’m thinking of you, grandpa). It doesn’t matter if the image shows a person with special needs, debilitating illnesses, or old age, (grandpa again!). Each of us bears the likeness of God. We are each unique, special, and singular beings in the created world. Just as a piece of money has value because it’s stamped with the image of a president, so a human being has value because it’s stamped with the image of the Almighty.

QuarterThe truth of our “image” should affect how we treat one another. Every person, no matter sex, age, nationality, or race is worthy of dignity and value, because every person bears the stamp of the divine upon them. We should treat people with respect, irregardless of their intellect, appearance, or size of their wallet. (This is a rather good thing for me, as my wallet is quite thin).

So what does this mean for you? Have you considered yourself as an image bearer of God? Do you realize you are significant and sacred, regardless of what your mirror may say about you? Do you realize others are worthy of dignity and respect because they are stamped with the Almighty’s likeness?

Congratulations for participating! You win a bag of Doritos. I’ll give it to you the next time we meet. Ha ha.

A Crazy Man Baptizes Jesus. Hmmm…(Matthew 3:1-12)

Breaking_longImagine you’re watching the news one night and the headline story is “Crazy Religious Man Shows Up Downtown.” The TV presents images of a man covered in ragged clothing who looks like he hasn’t washed, shaved, or visited the local Great Clips in quite a while. What’s worse is he’s standing on top of a park bench and calling people everywhere to repent of their sins. He identifies any and every sin, including greed, idolatry, homosexuality, hypocrisy, pornography, gossip, anger, pride…he just keeps going. He says God’s king is coming and you can choose repentance and forgiveness or the sword of God’s judgment will fall on you.

So what would you be thinking?  Continue reading

Did Wonderful Men Wonder Too?

WonderingI wonder a lot.

I wonder if and when I will ever get a job which is fulfilling. I wonder how I’ll make ends meet. I wonder at unanswered prayer, brokenness, and why God allows evil men to have success and good people to suffer. I also wonder why God invented roaches and Brussels sprouts, (they’re in the same category if you ask me).

I wonder if folks in the Bible ever wondered. You have to figure they did. Joseph shared his dreams with his family, thinking he was going to be somebody special, but instead got thrown in a well and sold into slavery. Did he, while traveling away from his family in the slave caravan start thinking, “Well that didn’t work out like I thought”? Continue reading