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January 30, 2008

Chapter-a-Day John 12

Blind Jesus said all this, and then went into hiding. All these God-signs he had given them and they still didn't get it, still wouldn't trust him. John 12:36 (TM)

Some people just refuse to believe. They ask for more and more proof. They want more and more assurances. And yet, the reality is there would never be enough proof. There are not enough assurances. Faith requires leaving the safety of what we know. Faith is risk.

Some will never take the step.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and KoAn

January 29, 2008

Chapter-a-Day John 11

He said these things, and then announced, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep. I'm going to wake him up." John 11:11 (TM)

When my "Grandma Golly" died, the girls were only 3 or 4 years old. My nephews, Sam and Sol, were the same ages. We had been at the funeral home for the long hours of visitation the evening before the funeral. There had been a steady stream of visitors, friends and family throughout the evening to share in our grief.

Like most toddlers, the reason for the occasion was lost on the girls and their male cousins who took the opportunity to tear around the funeral home playing together. Late in the evening is was quiet in the visitation room as most everyone but family and a few dear friends had departed.

My nephew Solomon, ripping around the room in a playful fury, stopped short right in front of the casket. He looked at the body of his great grandmother lying there. He looked at his wrist (where there was no watch), and then shouted at the top of his lungs for all to hear...

"IT'S TIME FOR GRANDMA TO WAKE UP!"

...If you only have faith as a little child.

Chapter-a-Day John 11

He said these things, and then announced, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep. I'm going to wake him up." John 11:11 (TM)

When my "Grandma Golly" died, the girls were only 3 or 4 years old. My nephews, Sam and Sol, were the same ages. We had been at the funeral home for the long hours of visitation the evening before the funeral. There had been a steady stream of visitors, friends and family throughout the evening to share in our grief.

Like most toddlers, the reason for the occasion was lost on the girls and their male cousins who took the opportunity to tear around the funeral home playing together. Late in the evening is was quiet in the visitation room as most everyone but family and a few dear friends had departed.

My nephew Solomon, ripping around the room in a playful fury, stopped short right in front of the casket. He looked at the body of his great grandmother lying there. He looked at his wrist (where there was no watch), and then shouted at the top of his lungs for all to hear...

"IT'S TIME FOR GRANDMA TO WAKE UP!"

...If you only have faith as a little child.

January 25, 2008

Chapter-a-Day John 10

Choose This kind of talk caused another split in the Jewish ranks. A lot of them were saying, "He's crazy, a maniac—out of his head completely. Why bother listening to him?" But others weren't so sure: "These aren't the words of a crazy man. Can a 'maniac' open blind eyes?" John 10:19-21 (TM)

Jesus has always created division. When he lived on Earth in the flesh he was constantly at the center of controversy. The Jews were split, the public was split, his own family was split. People were trying to make him king as others tried repeatedly to kill him or have him killed. It should come as no surprise. There are two sides to the eternal conflict. Thus, good, evil and the conflict between the two are at the heart of every great story. Wherever good is present you will find evil present to combat it and the result is conflict.

Jesus' teachings call each person to make a choice: believe or don't (and in avoiding the decision you make your choice clear). To this day, that call to choose, and the and the subsequent simple act of faith splits friends, churches, communities, and families.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and SeraphimC

January 24, 2008

Chapter-a-Day John 9

Blind He replied, "I know nothing about that one way or the other. But I know one thing for sure: I was blind . . . I now see." John 9:25 (TM)

Think for a moment about the word "Witnessing". Believers often have a mental definition of this word that includes all sorts of uncomfortable connotations, yet the root of the word simply means to testify to what you've seen and experienced.

The blind man in today's chapter was asked all sorts of theological questions by the religious leaders. Questions which he knew nothing about. All he knew was that he was blind, Jesus came along and touched him, and then he could see. What more powerful witness could he give?

The most powerful and effective witness a follower of Jesus can give - is simply to tell their story.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and ontwerpplus

January 23, 2008

Chapter-a-Day John 8

Horizon Jesus said, "You're tied down to the mundane; I'm in touch with what is beyond your horizons. You live in terms of what you see and touch. I'm living on other terms. John 8:23 (TM)

I wonder how often we, even those of us living in faith, still allow ourselves to be tied down to the mundane. How often do we limit ourselves to only what we can see and touch? I don't want merely to see what man is doing. I want to see what God is doing. I don't want my vision to be limited to the flesh but to clearly see the things of the Spirit.

I want to touch what is beyond the horizon.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and Norma Desmond

January 22, 2008

Chapter-a-Day John 7

His brothers said, "Why don't you leave here and go up to the Feast so your disciples can get a good look at the works you do? No one who intends to be publicly known does everything behind the scenes. If you're serious about what you are doing, come out in the open and show the world." His brothers were pushing him like this because they didn't believe in him either. John 7:3-5 (TM)

With a daughter graduating from high school and planning her college career and independent life, I've found that it's difficult to know when to give advice and when to keep your mouth shut. I realize that sometimes Dad's advice is welcome and sometimes it falls on deaf ears. While I want what's best for Taylor, she is ultimately God's child. She must follow His calling and the path that He has for her. I've tried to be very conscious of that fact - and act accordingly.

After the "fish and loaves" crowd tried to make Jesus king, we find Jesus' own family trying to tell him what he should do. I can only imagine the pressure Jesus faced from all sides as his miracles became known and his popularity skyrocketed. I'm sure he had plenty of willing "agents" wanting to make a buck from promoting him. Religious and political groups must have sought Jesus' endorsement and so further their agendas. People wanted healing. People wanted free food. People wanted entertainment.

Jesus had to shut out the noise and the crowds. He had to stay true to what he knew he must do. God help me, help Taylor, to have discerning ears and a committed heart.

January 21, 2008

Chapter-a-Day John 6

Megachurch Jesus answered, "You've come looking for me not because you saw God in my actions but because I fed you, filled your stomachs—and for freeJohn 6:26 (TM)

This verse made me think about the church today. The crowds followed because Jesus fed their hunger - which was their pressing need. Hunger isn't the need for most of us in America. What is our need? What makes the crowds gather at the megachurches which our culture has deemed the 'successful' churches?

Could it perhaps be that we're feeding people's hunger for entertainment? for comfort? for ease? Could we be feeding the hunger of pride - wanting to be seen in the right places with the right people? Are we catering to the right hunger?

When Jesus started talking about people's real spiritual hunger and need - the crowds walked away.

Is the church today willing to risk that?

I'm just asking.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and Klaxon.

January 20, 2008

Weekend with the Navigators

Garden_of_the_godsWendy and I just got back from a weekend conference with the Navigators in Colorado Springs. The Navigators ministry holds a special place in my heart. When I was a new believer, back in my high school days, I had an after-school job and my boss discipled me using the Navigators' materials. Not only did it teach me the importance of studying the scriptures and growing as a disciple, but it also taught me the importance of memorizing scripture. I went on to teach Navigators' discipleship courses with classmates, family Wendy_vanderwell_garden_of_the_gods members and in different churches.

The keynote speaker for this weekend was Dallas Willard. Wendy and I both enjoyed his teaching - but it was a bit like drinking from a fire hydrant. About five minutes into his talk my head was completely inundated with more than I could possibly absorb. I wanted him to stop every few statements and just let me chew on it for a while before he continued.
Mike_treneer

We also enjoyed talking to our friend Mike Treneer and hearing about what God is doing around the world through the Navigators. Having spent many years leading the Navigator's work in Kenya, Mike had in interesting perspective on the turmoil there. Part of the weekend's focus was Indonesia and we were treated with the words and music of the Navigator's staff from Indonesia (as well as some beautiful gifts)Dallas_willard_navworld_2008.

I would love to tell you it was really, really relaxing, but Thursday was a travel nightmare (got stuck in Denver and ended up renting a car and driving the rest of the way) and we had to be up at 3:45 a.m. to catch an early flight out this morning. So, we arrived late, left early and were busy in sessions much of the time in between. Nevertheless, we did get to take in Garden of the Gods and we came  home having met some amazing people and having heard some great Navworld_2008_01teaching.

We're home. Our things are unpacked. We're settled in on the couch and ready for a few hours of relaxation watching the Australian Open before another work week begins.

Photos (top to bottom):
Garden of the Gods National Monument
Wendy at Garden of the Gods
Mike Treneer shares about the turmoil in Kenya
Dallas Willard teaching on "truth"
Badu and Wati Situmorang do Indonesian dance to Psalm 150

January 18, 2008

Chapter-a-Day John 5

Relativity"You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you'll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren't willing to receive from me the life you say you want. John 5:39-40 (TM)

In the script of The Odd Couple that we're currently producing for Union Street Players, there's a trivia question that asks "What does the 'c' stand for in Einstein's theory e=mc2?" I've known Einsteins theory of relativity since I was a child, but Wendy and I discussed the other day that neither of us have a clue what it really means.

Yesterday, while stuck in the Denver airport, I looked it up. I can now tell you that it's about energy being equal to mass times the speed of light (velocity) squared. It tells you how much energy is in a piece of matter if that energy should/could be unleashed. I still don't get it, but now I know what the "c" stands for.

There are a lot of people who know their Bibles backwards and forwards who still don't get the Message. Even Satan knows the Bible cover to cover. He was quick to throw out quotes to Jesus (and twist their meaning) when he was tempting him.

The Bible is a necessary ingredient for spiritual growth and maturity, but simple knowledge of the Bible does not guarantee knowledge of God nor the things of God.