Archive for Devotions

What I’m Into Right Now

Hey Friends,

Periodically I get a request from folks about “what I’m into right now.” Such as, “Hey John, I know you read a bunch. So what’s your favorite book right now.” Or, “Hey John, you’re always talking about Ramen Noodles. What’s the best place in Portland?”

So, I’m gonna start a series of blog posts called “What I’m Into Right Now.”

First, you need to know that I’m a guy that gets into things for a while then moves on to something else when I get bored or discover something new. Call it “Rotating Hobbies!” I’ll blog about some of those things from my recent past, as well as what I’m into now.

My hope would be that you would get inspired, try some stuff out, explore, experiment and see what happens. You may find something you love or you may think I’m crazy (i.e.: charcoal toothpaste…blog post coming soon!). Feel free to click on any of the links I’m providing in the blog post and give it try!

I have a motto (actually a bunch of them, but this is one I’m crazy about now)… Leaders are Learners.

So, here’s to learning!

Grace and Peace,

John

Take the Plunge!

The following blog post is about WATER BAPTISM. If you are interested in baptized at West Salem Foursquare Church please check out this link: WSFC WATER BAPTISM.

 

We are offering baptism at EVERY service during the ENTIRE month of SEPTEMBER!

We encourage you to TAKE THE PLUNGE!

 

In Acts 8 we read about Philip’s encounter with a man from Ethiopia. Philip took the opportunity to expound upon the scriptures and introduce the Ethiopian to the saving knowledge of Jesus. While talking they came upon a body of water, and the man asked if he could be baptized. The New King James version of the Bible says that Philip responded with this prerequisite:  “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”

Before being baptized in water one must come to a place of surrender to Jesus by making Him the Lord and Savior. Our resolve must be similar to the Ethiopian man, “I believe that Jesus is the Son of God.”   Salvation is necessary before taking the next step of Water Baptism. If we have made Jesus the Lord of our life then Water Baptism is an appropriate next step!

Obedience

Jesus left His people with two specific commands that are vital to our growth as Christians. The first is communion (the Lord’s Supper) and the second is Water Baptism. He gave the church these sacraments as a reminder of his death and resurrection. Water baptism is not  our salvation, it is only another step of obedience in the plan of God. It symbolizes “death to self” and “new life” in the power and purposes of Christ. In a very real sense we are saying “Not my will, but yours.”

Identification

In Water Baptism we are identifying with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Romans 6:3,4 attests to this when it says,  “all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death. We were buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

When we are submersed into the waters of baptism, we are symbolically, yet very intentionally, dead to our old ways of living. Simply put: it is buried! As we come up from the water we are made alive to the new life found in Christ. Now that our old life is “dead unto Christ” you want to be sure not to go digging it back up!

Confession

Water Baptism is a public act that renounces sin from our past and professes faith in Christ.  It’s a public expression that Jesus is Lord and that we are now a part of the family of God. Many have referred to baptism as a “outward sign of an inward work.”  It’s a visible and audible confession to our friends, family, and church of the deep work Christ has done in our life. The Book of Acts chapter 10 refers to many individuals that responded to the message of Jesus. During this time the Apostle Peter asked if “anyone could keep these people from being baptized with water.”  The answer was obviously “no” and therefore they were publicly baptized as an open acknowledgement of Christ as Lord.

Release

Nothing could be greater than a life that is fully ALIVE through Jesus Christ! That happens when we are not trapped in bondage to our sin and guilt. In baptism we are crucifying the sin of our life and coming alive to Christ. There is great joy when we are alive to Christ and dead to sin. Water baptism is a symbolic statement of this new life and marks a point of release into further growth and ministry for us as believers.

Not only is Water Baptism a Biblical command, but it is also modeled to us by Jesus who himself was baptized as described in the Gospels. He knew the importance of this sacred moment and calls us to the same obedience, knowing that it will mark a significant point of blessing for our lives!

Say It With Me: Change is Good

Over the last few months I’ve been able to watch a transformation happen on the corner of Wallace Drive and Glen Greek in beautiful West Salem. I drive around that area quite often on any given day, whether I’m heading home, going to the church, hauling our kids to events, or getting groceries at Roth’s Market.

OK…I also fuel up at Starbucks pretty close to there (I’m actually writing this blog post from that hallowed spot).

The transformation in progress involves the ripping down of some old buildings, and tearing out sidewalks, in order to make way for something NEW. We are getting a re-routed intersection for better traffic flow. I personally was wanting a new strip mall, or if I’m lucky, a Vespa dealership, Trader Joes, or H&M (here’s to dreaming).

Regardless, sometimes things have to be torn down and replaced when they no longer serve the purposes for which they were intended. That’s not always a bad thing. Change is good.

Say it with me:  Change. Is. Good.

That wasn’t so hard, right?

God is into change too. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

The old becomes new in Christ. That can be a long, painful process for us, but the end-result is oh-so worth it.

Even when it comes to our methods, programs, styles, and preferences we have to consider that God is into change. Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 9:16-17 “No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wine skins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wine skins, and both are preserved.”

The work that the Lord wants to do in us in these days, I believe, is a NEW work. He desires to change us; making us more like himself.

Are you open to this?  Thankfully, we have a great promise in the Word of God that “His Mercy is New Every Morning.”

Let’s lean into his NEW mercy together!

Five Good Things About This Good Friday

Today is what is known as “Good Friday.” It’s the day that commemorates the death of Jesus Christ upon a cross at Calvary. Calvary is also called “Golgotha,” which means “place of the skull.”  It is a literal hillside immediately outside Jerusalem’s walls. This photo captures what it looks like today, along with a side-by-side display capturing it prior to heavy erosion and excavation.

A really horrific event took place on this site (or one quite similar to it). The death of Jesus was unjustified and unbelievable. It was grotesque. Friends, it’s really difficult to reduce the crucifixion to a charming story, complete with chocolate candy, bunnies or a gold crucifix necklace.

Jesus was an innocent man subjected to a trumped-up trial, followed by agonizing punishment. He was mocked with a crown of thorns on his head and he was hailed by his tormentors as a king. Pontius Pilate, realized he was presiding over a major injustice, looked for some way to release this man in whom he could find no fault, but decided instead to go along with local opinion. Jesus was nailed to a wooden cross and died.

So, it doesn’t seem like there is much good in this series of events.  Or is there? Here are five good things about Good Friday.

1.  Jesus’ death was the perfect sacrifice for our sins.  

Hebrews 9:22 tells us that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Simply put: someone had to die. Only a perfect, sinless sacrifice would suffice, and that certainly rules US out. Jesus, as the only sinless person to ever live, fit the bill exactly. His sacrifice upon on the cross paid it all!

2.  Jesus’ death reminds us to not rely on our own strength.

Luke 23:46 captures some of Jesus’ final words on the cross as he said “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” This was a cry of submission and surrender. The Apostle Paul understood this when he said in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”  We can learn from this. A good thing about Good Friday is that we have an annual reminder to submit and surrender to God’s strength.

3.  Jesus’ death is an expression of God’s passionate love for us.

Romans 5:8 tells us that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The most famous scripture of all time, John 3:16, echoes this: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son…” No greater love has anyone shown than to lay his life down for a friend. That’s what God, through Jesus, expresses to us.

4.  Jesus’ death reconciles us to the Father.

Romans 5 goes on to say in verse 10 that “while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son….” This means that you and I have been justified (just as if I’d never sinned), and redeemed (bought back from the enemy), and positioned as a child of God (rather than his enemy).

5.  Jesus’ death was a sweet set up for his Resurrection.

The best good thing about Good Friday is that it’s a launch pad for Easter. Tony Campolo famously said, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Coming!” Death is swallowed up in VICTORY. Just when you think all is lost, there is the hope of the resurrection. That’s good news for modern man.

 

 

Through the Roof

Zig Ziglar once said, “I have such optimism, I’d go after Moby Dick and take the tarter sauce with me.”

I love this quote, because I am an optimistic guy. I enjoy taking on big challenges (I know, I know…I’m kinda sick in the head).

I tend to look at impossible situations with tarter sauce in hand.

I’m a cup half FULL kind of person.

What about you?

Recently I was in Capernaum on the north side of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. It was at this historical site that Jesus was teaching in a home. You can read about it in Mark 2:1-12. As Jesus was teaching in a packed out home, four guys brought their sick friend in order to receive a healing touch. They couldn’t get through the doors or windows due to the volume of people engrossed in Jesus’ teaching. There was simply NO WAY to get their friend inside the house.

Or was there?

It is at key junctures such as these that most people get discouraged and walk away (picture Charlie Brown sulking).

But not these guys. They went after Moby Dick with the tarter sauce in hand!

They went through the roof.

Not many folks would think to go through the roof. That takes work, costs money, makes a mess and causes a scene.

AND…it’s what gets friends healed.

I love the optimism. May we become more and more like these guys, especially when it comes to our friends that need to get to Jesus.

Preachers and Drunks

JesusLovesYouThe story is told of a drunk man that stumbled through the woods until he came upon a preacher baptizing people in the river. He tripped into the water and bumped into the preacher who asked the drunk, “Are you ready to find Jesus?” “Yes I am,” the drunk replied. The preacher dunked him into the water then pulled him up and asked him, “Brother have you found Jesus?”  The drunk replied, “No!” Shocked at the answer, the preacher dunked him into the water again a bit longer. He pulled him out of the water and asked again, “Have you found Jesus, my brother?” The drunk again answered, “No, I have not found Jesus.” By this time the preacher was at his wits end so he dunked the drunk in the water again, but this time he held him down for about 30 seconds. The man started flailing his arms and legs so the preacher finally pulled him up and asked the drunk the last time, “For the love of God, have you found Jesus?” The drunk wiped his eyes and caught his breath only to say to the preacher, “No, but are you sure this is where he fell in?”

Aside from the obvious theological problems of this story, there is a bigger reminder to us about how Jesus can get lost by Preachers and Drunks alike.

Sometimes we lose him in the cultural stereotypes that we’ve been given. Other times we lose him in the trappings of the church, with all it’s traditions, rules, and hypocrisies. Oddly, we can sometimes lose him in the Word of God. We can become so caught up in the phrases and miss the person. This is verified in Jesus’ own words found in the Book of John “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you have life” (John 5:39,40).

Where did Jesus fall in?  Where can he be found? How can we truly understand his love for us? I like how the French Philosopher Maurice Blondel puts it: “If you really want to understand a man, don’t just listen to what he says but watch what he does.”

We know that Jesus loves us because the Bible tells us so (you’re humming the children’s song right now, aren’t you?). But what I appreciate about Jesus is that he didn’t just TELL his disciples (us) about his love…he SHOWED them (us).

I believe he showed them (and still does to us today) with a towel, tears and a table. I want to unpack three  familiar passages and look for where Jesus fell in…

Towel // John 13

Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. (John 13:1,4,5)

It was historically customary for a servant to wash the dust off of the feet of anyone who entered the home of the master.  But in this particular case no one did that, so the guests feet remained dirty until Jesus humbled himself, took off his outer clothing, wrapped a towel around his waist and began to wash their feet. 

Jesus was showing us what love looks like. He knew that before he could TEACH he had to TOUCH.  The disciples didn’t need a lecture on dirty feet. Neither do many of our unsaved friends. They need someone to get down and simply wash off the crud!

I love how Philippians 2:7 drives this home. Note the connections I’ve made to John 13:  “He made himself nothing (took outer clothing off), being made in human likeness (towel), and took the very nature of a servant (wash the disciples feet).”

This is how Jesus SHOWED us love.  How else does he show us? 

Tears // John 11

Jesus wasn’t there when his best friend Lazarus died. When he finally arrived everybody was a mess. Mary was crying. The Jews (perhaps paid mourners) gathered around the grave and joined in the grieving. This must have been like a room full of people watching Marley & Me or My Sisters Keeper (trust me: these are Weep-Fest films).

Vs. 34 – “Where have you laid him?” “Come and See Lord,” they replied.

Vs. 35 – “Jesus wept.”

Vs. 36 – “See how much he loved him!”

Jesus didn’t just say it, he showed it. You may wonder why (if he really loved him) he didn’t do more than just cry. Other wondered that too:

vs. 37 – “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

If Jesus really loved Lazarus, why didn’t he keep him from dying? The same logic can be applied to this question:  Why doesn’t Jesus keep bad things from happening to us?  If he’s really sovereign then wouldn’t it make sense for him to cut off death, pain and suffering at the pass?

Consider this scenario:  Have you ever said to someone “I don’t want you to fix it. I just want you to listen?” Over the years, I have discovered that some of my greatest growth has come out of lots of pain and I honestly didn’t need someone to fix it, but instead I needed to know someone was walking with me, listening to me, and weeping with me.

Such was the case with Jesus.  He wept before he ever raised Lazarus from the dead. You know, perhaps the greater miracle is that the God of the universe can cry. Through his tears he SHOWS us the full extent of his love.

Table // Luke 7

In Luke 7 we discover a pretty shady meal time. The table was set and around it we have a Pharisee, a Prostitute (called The Sinful Woman) and Jesus.

This all sounds like the makings of a good joke: A Pharisee, a Prostitute and Jesus walk into a house…

Both the Pharisee and prostitute were shunned by society, but Jesus sat at the table with them. That’s him showing LOVE. Thankfully he does the same with us. He invites us, with our shady backgrounds and sinful propensities, to eat with him. He welcomes us to the table.

Consider the Last Supper.  At that particular table was one who would deny him (Peter), another who would betray him to be killed (Judas), and a bunch of folks that would abandon him (rest of the disciples).

Looks like Preachers and Drunks are in good company.

Towel, Tears, and a Table: It’s through examples such as these that we discover again how God demonstrated his love for us in this: that while we were still sinners, Jesus died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Awake My Soul

awake7Ah Ezekiel.

Ezekiel was a prophet at the same time as Jeremiah. When he was 26 years old he was taken into captivity to Babylon along with about 10,000 of his fellow Jews. In the fifth year of captivity Ezekiel received a call to be a prophet of the Lord and for the next 22 years he ministered to his fellow captives.

If you were to split his prophetic ministry into two halves and used the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem at 587 BC as the dividing line it would look like this:

1. Prior to the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem Ezekiel spoke of DOOM.

2. Then after 587 BC Ezekiel was a prophet of HOPE.

Isn’t that what we need sometimes?

Not doom. We have enough of that.

I think we need more Hope.

Especially when we’re feeling spiritually dry, dusty, or dead. Lord, give us hope! When we’re in a spiritual valley, we need glimpses of perspective that comes through hope.

I think we all understand the concept of “valleys.” This is where we feel trapped, confused and discouraged. I imagine that’s how the children of Israel felt while they were in captivity…until one of their own, Ezekiel, started to speak hope into their valley.

That’s what he did in chapter 37, the famous vision called ‘The Valley of Dry Bones.” It was given to him more than 2,500 years ago for the Babylonian exiles. I think the words still apply to us today.

Here is the Vision:

The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones. He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?

“O Sovereign Lord,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.”

Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

So I spoke this message, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons. Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them.

Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’”

So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army.

God’s question to Ezekiel is an important one: “Can these dry bones live?” I think this is a question He is still asking us today. Now, from a human point of view the answer to this question is obviously NO. But with divine perspective, we know nothing is impossible.

“God gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did.” Romans 4:17

God takes that which is dead and makes it live again! How does this happen? I believe the text gives us two ways:

1. The Word of God

2. The Spirit of God

As Ezekiel walked through the valley of dry bones the Lord told him to prophesy (which means “to speak”) to the bones.  He said to the bones: “Hear the Word of the Lord.” As he spoke the Word of the Lord the bones started coming together with sinew, muscles, and skin.

Imagine this scene. Freaky and weird, huh? Especially for a good Old Testament Jewish prophet, because he isn’t supposed to touch dead things! But when God’s Word gets in contact with dead people it causes life.

Is it doing that in you? If not, then are you in close enough contact with God’s Word, and is it getting into you?

What is the Word of God saying to you? God is speaking, but are you listening? When we listen to God and his Word, it has the power to pull the dry, fractured parts of our life together. Things start to make sense again.

 

In a nutshell: The Word forms us.

 

When your life is falling apart, when you are in spiritual valley of dry bones then be quick to get in contact with the Word of God and let it form you.

Notice then in the text that the bodies that had formed didn’t have breath so God said to Ezekiel:  “Speak to the breath and tell it to breathe on these dead bodies so they can live again.”

 

In a nutshell: The Spirit fills us.

 

The BONES became a BODY with the Word of God and the body became an ARMY with the Spirit of God.

Friends, we need BOTH! Oh to be formed with the Word AND filled with the Spirit!

Join me in this pursuit. Join me in crying out to the Lord: AWAKE MY SOUL.

Generosity Is…

Generosity-21“As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:1-4

Lest we think that Jesus is ripping on the rich folks, let’s be clear: he is not SHAMING them for their gifts, he is CELEBRATING the widow for her gifts. The reason is because her generosity flowed out of severe need and lack, whereas the others gave out of abundance. For one group it was most likely easy to give. For the poor widow it was undoubtedly painstaking.

Jesus affirms her generosity.

Paul did the same for the Macedonian church in his letter to Corinth:

“We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.” 2 Cor. 8:1-5 ESV

From this passage, as well as others in 2 Corinthians 8, I’ve discovered a few principles regarding generosity.

• Generosity is sacrificial (2 Cor. 8:2). It’s been said that it’s not about “equal gifts, but rather, equal sacrifice.” That’s really the bottom line of what Jesus was communicating in the story about the rich givers and the poor widow.

 Generosity indicates a maturing faith (2 Cor. 8:7). In this verse we’re challenged to grow not only in our faith, speech, knowledge and love, but also in the area of our giving. Is this an area of your Christian journey that needs to mature?

• Generosity is a response to Jesus’ life and work in us (2 Cor 8:9). Elsewhere in the Bible we’re reminded that we “love him because he first loved us.” This works in tandem with the understanding that our giving is a natural response to Jesus’ super-natural gift of grace and salvation. Simply put: we can’t out-give God!

Friends, I want to encourage you to live a generous life – modeled after God the Father giving his only Son, and extended through the life of Jesus, in the willful laying down of his life upon the cross.

“Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!”  2 Corinthians 9:15

The Postures of Jesus

writing_in_sand.250w.tnThe biblical passage of John 8 captures the famous story of the woman caught in adultery. I’ve read this portion of scripture dozens of times over my lifetime and have always been drawn to Jesus’ grace, clarity of thought and balance.

Interestingly, this passage has been referred a bunch over the last few weeks at West Salem Foursquare Church. My family and I were able to take the whole month of July off as vacation, so I had some great friends come in to share the Word of God with our congregation. I was told, and now have been able to verify it by watching the teaching videos online, that each of the preachers made reference to the woman caught in adultery from John 8.

Interesting, huh?

This wasn’t planned. Maybe if we were more clever, we could have synced it all up into a nice summer teaching series, complete with graphics and a cute jingle. But, alas…we’re simply not that clever.

But, the Spirit of God sure is.

I wonder if there is something the Lord is trying to say to us.

Unfortunately, I think folks are way too quick to jump headlong into the “He who is without sin, cast the first stone” aspect of this story. This has become a mantra of sorts in our permissive culture. We are so prone to quote this verse when we are looking for a “free pass.” It’s almost as if there is nothing more to say when someone drops the “he who is without sin…”   It’s like when someone tells you that “God told them” – how do you refute that?

“God told you?” 
“Hmmm….OK then, I’ll just keep my mouth shut.”

“He who is without sin cast the first stone.”  
“Hmmm…OK then, again, I’ll just keep my mouth shut.”

But this is not an accurate or complete picture of what this is about.

The thrust of Christ’s statement—“He that is without sin . . .”—was this: “None of you is in a position to stone this woman, for you have disregarded the very law you profess to honor.” You see, the Old Testament code demanded that both the adulteress and the adulterer be subjected to the same penalty (see Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22). Where, then, was the man? These sanctimonious prosecutors were themselves in stark violation of the law.

When the Jewish leaders decided to be so specific, by mentioning that the woman was caught “in the very act,” they acknowledged an important point: they absolutely knew the identity of the male participant! In other words: it takes two to tango. If they caught the woman “in the very act” then it’s a given that the man was in that very act as well! But they chose to not haul the man in for stoning, and thereby didn’t follow Leviticus 20 and Deuteronomy 22.

They broke the law.

Guilty as charged.

Aren’t we all?  Guilty that is. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We have all missed the mark.

How does the Lord Jesus deal with us fellow lawbreakers? Here’s how: the same way he dealt with the woman caught in adultery:  with grace and truth.

Jesus’ posture was, is and will always be grace and truth. These spiritual postures are so clearly seen in three of Jesus’ physical postures.

Jesus sat down.  
Jesus bent down.
Jesus stood up.

When Jesus sat down he was displaying his authority. Famous rabbis of the past would often sit and teach for hours, while their students stood, listening and learning. The students were simply grateful to have the opportunity to hear the words and truths of the “master.” Jesus, the Great Rabbi (which means Teacher), opted to sit down while he taught the people in the temple.  It was while he was in this position of authority that the scribes and Pharisees brought the woman caught in adultery to him for his “judgement.” He, being in authority, could have pronounced that she be stoned, but instead he chose another posture, one that integrated seamlessly with truth…that is: grace.

Next in the text we discover Jesus bent down, writing something in the sand. He did this twice. No one, not even the smartest person, is clear as to what Jesus was writing with his finger, but I believe this posture was intended to display humility. Throughout the Gospel of John we see images of Jesus bent low to the ground. The most obvious occurrence is in the John 8 passage. There is also John 9 where Jesus made mud from spit and dirt to smear on the blind man’s eyes. John 13 reveals how Jesus bent down to wash the disciples feet, and finally, in John 21 post-Resurrection Jesus bent low to make breakfast for his bewildered friends.

Each of these references illustrate the fundamental understanding that God, in the person of Jesus, was willing to bend down and reach us where we are.

Authority and Humility.

Truth and Grace.

The final posture in the vignette of John 8 was a display of certainty. Twice Jesus stood up and made bold declarations.  First he said the famed phrase, “Let him who is without sin be the first to throw a stone” and then secondly pronounced freedom from condemnation and “go sin no more.”  These two statements again add to the tapestry of grace AND truth.

Humility sandwiched by Authority and Certainty. 

So, what might the Lord be trying to say to us?

Perhaps it is this:

Jesus is the truth AND the truth will set you free.

The truth is that we are all sinners. Don’t throw stones unless you have an extra one to hit yourself with.

The grace is that we’re not condemned. We are free to go. But we are also free to go…and sin no more.

These are good postures for us to take.

Lean into the Lord

leaning_man_(s)

 

Henri Nouwen says “the word ‘discipline’ means ‘the effort to create some space in which God can act.’”

I think the Christian’s most important move is to step aside and give God the proper room to do what He does best. You see, we are completely dependent upon Him. We may not realize or accept it, but that doesn’t deny its reality. Everything we have comes from Him.

Consider the air you breathe.

Did you produce that in and of your own strength?

No. It comes from the God of the Universe.

The Apostle Paul’s exhortation to the men of Athens was simple: “For in Him we live and move and have our being.”

He even quoted some their famous poets in saying, “We are His offspring.”

Our lives are often marked by independence and a renegade spirit, but this shouldn’t be the case in the Kingdom of God! Our high calling is one of submission and servanthood. Our strength comes from above and can only be made active as we approach God in humility and contriteness of heart. Let’s push aside our pride and create space in which God can act!

Let’s continue to be dependent upon the Lord. Let’s lean into the Lord for HIS wisdom and strength.